Caesareans are a very touchy subject. As soon as anyone talks about the rate being too high, women will jump in with their stories about how a caesarean saved their life or their baby’s. There’s no doubt that c-sections are lifesavers and have done a huge amount to lower the number of deaths in childbirth.
At the same time, when caesareans aren’t medically necessary, straightforward vaginal births have advantages for mothers and babies.
Listen: Monique Bowley and Bec Judd talk to Midwife Cath Curtin about whether or not you can have a c-section if it’s not medically necessary. Post continues after audio.
Now, a new study from the US is suggesting that if women were given a little longer to labour, more of them would be able to give birth vaginally.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that first-time mothers are generally given three hours to push their baby out in the second stage of labour. Beyond that, they’re considered to be experiencing a prolonged second stage, and intervention may be needed.
But this new study, carried out on 78 first-time mothers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Pennsylvania, found that if women were given just one more hour to push, caesarean rates were halved.
Dr Alex Gimovsky, one of the authors of the study, says the time recommendation came from expert opinion in the 1800s. Research has proven that women today take longer to give birth than they did in earlier generations.
“The study really showed what we’ve seen in practice for years, which is that there can be benefits to allowing women to labour longer,” Dr Gimovsky says. “We were excited to see that it dramatically reduced the risk of c-section in this specific group of women.”