Less natural births in private hospitals

12:0AM, Sep 13th 2012

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
  • You are always so happy, Sophie!!! What's not to smile about celebrating the Mother & Baby Awards with our fab sponsors from @colessupermarkets #mbawards #mbawards14 #motherandbabyawards

    mother and baby You are always so happy, Sophie!!! What's not to smile about celebrating the Mother & Baby Awards with our fab sponsors from @colessupermarkets #mbawards #mbawards14 #motherandbabyawards

    More from the team
  • Love a good table installation! Couldn't have done it without help from @thepartyparlour #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #mbawards14 #flowers #giftbsgs

    mother and baby Love a good table installation! Couldn't have done it without help from @thepartyparlour #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #mbawards14 #flowers #giftbsgs

    More from the team
  • Table settings are coming together! Exciting! @colessupermarkets #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #excited #springblooms #flowers #sophielegiraffe @deckhousewoolwich

    mother and baby Table settings are coming together! Exciting! @colessupermarkets #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #excited #springblooms #flowers #sophielegiraffe @deckhousewoolwich

    More from the team
  • On site @deckhousewoolwich and getting ready for a fabulous day ahead #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #sydney #excited #whowillwin #stunningvenue #deckhouse

    mother and baby On site @deckhousewoolwich and getting ready for a fabulous day ahead #motherandbabyawards #mbawards #sydney #excited #whowillwin #stunningvenue #deckhouse

    More from the team
  • How ADORABLE is this shot and romper from @alexandant Makes us want to eat icecream!!! But the best part is those baby thighs. Love love love!!! #icecream #baby #spring #supercute #romper

    mother and baby How ADORABLE is this shot and romper from @alexandant Makes us want to eat icecream!!! But the best part is those baby thighs. Love love love!!! #icecream #baby #spring #supercute #romper

    More from the team
  • Gift bags coming together with help from our friends @thepartyparlour #motherandbabyaus #motherandbabyawards @colessupermarkets

    mother and baby Gift bags coming together with help from our friends @thepartyparlour #motherandbabyaus #motherandbabyawards @colessupermarkets

    More from the team
  • The set up begins for tomorrow's Mother & Baby Awards ceremony. Just adore these baby feet cookies from @sweetnessthepatisserie #motherandbabyaus #motherandbabyawards #eventsetup #oscarsofthebabyindustry #excited #whowillwin

    mother and baby The set up begins for tomorrow's Mother & Baby Awards ceremony. Just adore these baby feet cookies from @sweetnessthepatisserie #motherandbabyaus #motherandbabyawards #eventsetup #oscarsofthebabyindustry #excited #whowillwin

    More from the team
  • Great minds think alike?? Or great minds dress alike??!!!! Ha ha! A team that dress together, stay together!!! All the way down to the nail colour - no joke!!! #twins #samesamebutdifferent #greatminds #spring #funny #motherandbabyaus

    mother and baby Great minds think alike?? Or great minds dress alike??!!!! Ha ha! A team that dress together, stay together!!! All the way down to the nail colour - no joke!!! #twins #samesamebutdifferent #greatminds #spring #funny #motherandbabyaus

    More from the team
  • A must have print for every nursery. Ideal for a gift or just a little something for your house. Get it now from @helloyellowstore #nurseryprint #nursery #musthave #sleep #dreams #baby

    mother and baby A must have print for every nursery. Ideal for a gift or just a little something for your house. Get it now from @helloyellowstore #nurseryprint #nursery #musthave #sleep #dreams #baby

    More from the team
  • How awesome is this bed from @thislittlelove_au A bed and cubby in one! Do they come in fault sizes??!!! #bestnightsleep #sleep #bed #cubby #love #goodnightsleeptight

    mother and baby How awesome is this bed from @thislittlelove_au A bed and cubby in one! Do they come in fault sizes??!!! #bestnightsleep #sleep #bed #cubby #love #goodnightsleeptight

    More from the team