I'm gobsmacked, but not at the same time..
About half of babies born at some of WA's biggest private maternity hospitals are delivered by caesarean, in a trend that confirms Perth as Australia's caesarean capital.
St John of God Murdoch tops the table, with 55.8 per cent of babies born by caesarean in 2010.
It is followed by Glengarry (49.4 per cent), St John of God Subiaco (46.7) and Attadale (44.9).
The rates are well above the State average of 33.6 per cent in 2010, which is up slightly on the 33.3 per cent reported in 2009 when WA had the highest rate in Australia.
WA's specialist public maternity unit King Edward Memorial Hospital, which deals mostly in higher risk pregnancies, has a caesarean rate of 35.1 per cent.
It is the first time the Health Department's annual report on mothers and babies includes a breakdown of caesarean rates by individual hospitals.
The department said it was publishing the figures in response to community demand for more information on hospital rates of inductions and caesareans.
Several studies have recently raised concerns about health complications for mothers and babies after caesareans.
US researchers found babies born by caesarean were twice as likely to become obese children as those delivered naturally, while a WA study found caesarean babies were more likely to end up in hospital with bad respiratory infection.
Childbirth educator Pip Wynn Owen, who runs the Perth service Birth Savvy, said the high rates of caesareans, particularly at private hospitals, was worrying.
"It's good to have these figures but what would be even more useful is to have them for individual doctors because some have rates as high as 70 per cent," she said.
"Obstetricians tend to play on women's fears and the most common one is to say the baby will be big, because that gives a reason to have a caesar, when more often than not the baby doesn't turn out to be big at all."
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists vice-president Michael Permezel said the profile of pregnant women going into private hospitals was different from those who used the public system.
"They tend to be in the older age group when we know there are higher rates of caesareans and obstetric complications," he said.