The rising number of women who have caesarean sections instead of natural births is causing concern for the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
The trust, which supports women through pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood, says it does not know why the rate of caesareans is increasing.
One in four maternity services showed a caesarean rate of between 20% and 29.9%, and 2% of services had a rate of more than 30%, according to latest figures. The World Health Organization recommends that the acceptable rate is 10 to 15%.
The maternity care working party, a multi-disciplinary group set up by the NCT, said there was an urgent need to address the problem.
"A caesarean is major abdominal surgery," the working party said in a statement to a conference in London with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
"Most women would prefer to give birth normally, provided that a normal birth is considered safe for them and their baby. It is important that health professionals' advice does not have the effect of denying them this opportunity without good reason."
The working party is calling for data to be published on caesarean section rates and for obstetricians to justify in each case that the benefits outweigh the hazards. It also wants action to be taken to prevent any inappropriate use of caesarean sections.
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said: "We know that in many cases caesareans are necessary for good clinical reasons. However, in our view rates have reached unacceptable levels and we want to know why."
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Source: The Guardian, 24 November 2022