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RCOG response to the Mail on Sunday article

News 23 August 2021

The Mail on Sunday published an article about vaginal and caesarean births on Sunday 22 August 2021. The RCOG were approached by the newspaper prior to the article being published and provided the following statement.

Dr Jo Mountfield, consultant obstetrician and Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“To ensure women have the best possible experience, the RCOG is committed to helping every woman have a good birth. Women should be fully supported to make informed choices about where and how they plan to give birth, and given impartial and accurate information to help with their decision making.

“Childbirth is unpredictable and complications can and do arise. Only four in 10 births in the UK occur without some form of intervention. These interventions are sometimes an essential part of care to ensure the safest possible birth, and in some cases can be lifesaving.

“We strongly believe that no woman should be made to feel their birth experience was negative if they needed medical intervention, and that’s why as a College we do not promote one method of birth over another. The safety and care of a woman during labour and birth, and the safe arrival of her baby, should always be the main focus.

“The majority of caesarean births are carried out for clinical reasons, for example, a baby in a breech position or the woman has a low lying placenta, as this is seen as the safest option for mother and baby. An emergency or unplanned caesarean birth may happen when there are serious concerns about a woman or her baby’s wellbeing or when labour is not progressing. In these cases, a caesarean birth can be a life-saving procedure.

“Some women may request a caesarean birth for a variety of reasons, including having had a previous traumatic experience. We strongly believe that if a woman chooses a caesarean birth her choice should be respected and supported.

“Both vaginal and caesarean births carry certain benefits and risks, which should be explained and discussed with women as they plan how they wish to give birth.

“Counselling women on the risks of vaginal birth is not routine as most women in the UK who give birth vaginally, recover well and have healthy babies. However, as part of our review and update to our ‘Choosing to have a caesarean section’ patient information resource, we have engaged with a range of stakeholders about including more information about the risks and benefits of all types of births to support informed decision making. This update is expected to be published in early 2022.

“We are also looking at opportunities to explain the risks of both caesarean births and assisted/unassisted vaginal birth in other areas of our work including our consent advice for planned caesarean births.”

ENDS

 

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on +44 7986 183167 or email .