Tell mums of C-section risk, warns major study
Women should avoid if possible having their first baby by caesarean section as the procedure slightly increases the risk of death and causes complications, a major Irish study has revealed today.
The research, led by Prof Cecily Begley of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, is the first time that 2,800 first-time mothers, who have undergone caesarean sections, have been tracked for a year afterwards to investigate the side-effects.
The findings, to be presented to an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) conference, come as the rate of births by caesarean section here has jumped from 7pc in 1984 to 30pc in 2014.
Prof Begley's initial findings warn that women need to be fully informed of all the complications from caesarean section, although it is safer than in the past. In particular they should know about the rates of wound infection and wound breakdown as well as the possible need for more GP visits after surgery.
Comparing women who gave birth by other means the study findings reveal:
One-third had to visit their GP twice or more for their own health in the first six months
Women who had emergency sections needed twice the number of visits to their doctor as those who had a planned procedure
11pc had to go to A&E
3.7pc needed to be readmitted to hospital for treatment
More than one in two had wound pain for the first three months. Some 8.5pc had a wound infection and 2.4pc had to have the wound repaired.
Prof Begley said women should also be told that although the rate of urinary infection after caesarean section was less in the first six months compared to other birth methods, they were equal after a year.
"Although caesarean section is safer now than previously, it does slightly increase the risks of mortality and results in morbidities," she said.
The research is part of a wide-ranging study of maternal health and morbidity in Ireland.
Meanwhile, separate research, led by the ESRI, shows more than 20,000 women are now having caesarean sections annually. This is linked to risks such as more women over 35 having babies, obesity and high blood pressure.
Prof Richard Layte of the ESRI said it found rates vary in different maternity units, even though they tend to treat women with the same risk factors.
It means that a woman giving birth in a smaller unit is more likely to have a caesarean section because doctors are more prone to practise defensively.
They can feel it is a lesser risk and they can manage it better.
"They have less staff and less of the mix of staff than in bigger hospitals, so they need to cope with a complication should it arise," Prof Layte said.