Less natural births in private hospitals

12:0AM, Sep 13th 2012

Amelia Bloomfield

Australian women giving birth in private hospitals are 20 percent more likely to undergo medical interventions such as caesareans than mums who give birth in public hospitals.

Image: Getty

Australian women giving birth in private hospitals are 20 percent more likely to undergo medical interventions than mums who go to public hospitals.

A newly released study of nearly 700,000 NSW women with low-risk pregnancies has found that while 35 percent in public hospitals had natural vaginal births with no medical intervention, this figure dropped to 15 percent for women choosing a private hospital.

And this is a phenomenon that has increased dramatically in the past decade, according to study leader Dr Hannah Dahlen, a professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney.

To challenge the popular belief that women receiving interventions such as caesareans and induced labour are older or less healthy, Dr Dahlen said they specifically sought out women aged 20 to 34 with a low risk of birth complications.

With one in three babies now delivered by caesarean section in Australia, rising public health concerns over the associated risks to mother and child has led the New South Wales government to implement policy aiming to increase vaginal birth rates.

Related: Caesareans not always best for baby

Researchers noted that the cost to the taxpayer of rising interventions is also significant, with birth costs increasing by up to 50 percent once interventions were introduced among first-time low-risk mothers.

“The fact that these procedures, which were initially life saving, are now so commonplace and do not appear to be associated with improved [baby] death rates demands close review,” found the study, published this week in the British Medical Journal’s BJM Open online journal.

The marked difference in birthing experiences of women in public and private care is “potentially due to variations in the practitioners’ behaviour rather than the health of women,” concludes the study.

“The findings suggest that a two-tier system exists in Australia, without any obvious benefit for women and babies, and a level of medical over servicing which is difficult to defend.”

But the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians has expressed concern over the study’s findings. In a statement posted on the College’s website, president Dr Rupert Sherwood denied the notion that “low-risk women were routinely being given unnecessary obstetric care.”

Dr Sherwood called the study “an open criticism of those women who make the choice to access…one-on-one continuity of care with a specialist medical practitioner.”

He asserted that women receiving obstetric interventions were well informed about the implications. “In particular, the private hospital patient is more likely than most to have carefully researched her options prior to making choices about care,” said Dr Sherwood

“It is important that we respect the choices women make and continue our strong advocacy for the best care to be available to all women, whatever their choice of birth provider or location.”

What was your birthing experience in public or private care? Did you have any medical interventions? Share your thoughts below.

comments powered by Disqus

Related articles

 
 
instagram
  • Look at this little Aussie babe celebrating the Australia Day weekend! Show us what your kids are up to this long weekend and tag us #MBbabeoftheday

    mother and baby Look at this little Aussie babe celebrating the Australia Day weekend! Show us what your kids are up to this long weekend and tag us #MBbabeoftheday

    More from the team
  • Look at @soniakruger wearing her proud, new mama smile! What a precious photo of her precious new baby, Maggie via her co-host @davidcampbell73 👏

    mother and baby Look at @soniakruger wearing her proud, new mama smile! What a precious photo of her precious new baby, Maggie via her co-host @davidcampbell73 👏

    More from the team
  • Get into the spirit of things this Australia Day weekend with these Aussie fruit popsicles from @lifelovehiccups. Click the link in our profile and search "Popsicles" for the easy recipe.

    mother and baby Get into the spirit of things this Australia Day weekend with these Aussie fruit popsicles from @lifelovehiccups. Click the link in our profile and search "Popsicles" for the easy recipe.

    More from the team
  • A huge congratulations to @soniakruger on the birth of her daughter. Little Maggie Kruger McPherson was born this morning!

    mother and baby A huge congratulations to @soniakruger on the birth of her daughter. Little Maggie Kruger McPherson was born this morning!

    More from the team
  • Happy long weekend! This little dude is looking very pleased with himself. Thanks for sharing @sambonnor

Do you think your cherub should be our next Babe of the Day? Tag your pic with @motherbaby_au and #MBbabeoftheday and we'll see what we can do!

    mother and baby Happy long weekend! This little dude is looking very pleased with himself. Thanks for sharing @sambonnor Do you think your cherub should be our next Babe of the Day? Tag your pic with @motherbaby_au and #MBbabeoftheday and we'll see what we can do!

    More from the team
  • Expecting twins? Here's 6 things you need to do now to get organised, via @jade_audrey_love 
Click the link on our profile and search "twins" to read more and add your tips!

    mother and baby Expecting twins? Here's 6 things you need to do now to get organised, via @jade_audrey_love Click the link on our profile and search "twins" to read more and add your tips!

    More from the team
  • Have you been accused of sharing too many photos of your kids?

    mother and baby Have you been accused of sharing too many photos of your kids?

    More from the team
  • This guy is one happy beach babe! Thanks @midnightmums this little man is today's Babe of the Day 👏 #MBbabeoftheday

    mother and baby This guy is one happy beach babe! Thanks @midnightmums this little man is today's Babe of the Day 👏 #MBbabeoftheday

    More from the team
  • We love seeing dads show their softer side when they're with their kids. @guysebastian was no exception when he was playing tea parties with his little man on the kitchen floor this morning. So cute!

    mother and baby We love seeing dads show their softer side when they're with their kids. @guysebastian was no exception when he was playing tea parties with his little man on the kitchen floor this morning. So cute!

    More from the team
  • What an angel face! 👼
Congratulations @mamacita_mama your little sweetheart is our Babe of the Day👏 Tag your cherub's photo with #MBbabeoftheday and @motherbaby_au for their chance to be our next 'Babe of the Day'.

    mother and baby What an angel face! 👼 Congratulations @mamacita_mama your little sweetheart is our Babe of the Day👏 Tag your cherub's photo with #MBbabeoftheday and @motherbaby_au for their chance to be our next 'Babe of the Day'.

    More from the team