When we’re not using the “too posh to push” or “asking for it” explanation for rising caesarean rates, health professionals resort to the “too old, too sick and too fat” mantra to explain away our responsibility for the rise. In other words, women are giving birth at older ages, they have more health complications and are increasingly overweight.
All of this is true on one level – women are older and more likely to be overweight and this all increases the chance of complications – but caesareans are rising among all groups, regardless of age, risk factors and weight.
In fact, there is a greater correlation between your postcode and private insurance status and the caesarean section rate than being older, overweight, sick or asking for it. And the healthiest, wealthiest women who are least likely to be obese, smoke or have poor health (women giving birth in private hospitals with private obstetricians) are nearly twice as likely to have a caesarean section.
When a healthy first-time mother in this country has less chance than not of having a normal birth, then something is seriously wrong.
It’s time to abandon the “too old, too fat, too sick and asking for it" mantra and stop blaming women for the high rates of caesarean births. Instead, we need to address the real problem: we health providers are too often scared, impatient and inadequately informed to give women a real choice.