Australia has one of the highest rates of caesarean births in the developed world, with 34 per cent of all deliveries by c-section.
This is almost as twice as many as it was in 1991 – when 18 per cent of births were performed via the surgery.
The World Health Organization recommends that c-sections rates should be around 10 to 15 per cent, and only performed when medically necessary.
An added challenge is that elective c-sections can sometimes expose mothers and babies to risk, with no evidence that the surgery improves health outcomes.
Research from Notre Dame University Australia could help bring Australia’s high rates more in line with WHO recommendations.
The Australian-first study shows pre-birth, or antenatal, education not only reduces the rates of c-sections but could save Australia $97 million per year and reduce the stress of childbirth.
Lead researcher, Dr Kate Levett says when applied to the 120,000 first time mothers who give birth annually in Australia, the potential saving for hospitals, government and private health insurers is significant.
“Our previous research showed that after taking the course, approximately 82 per cent of women, who were first time mothers, experienced a vaginal birth, as opposed to a caesarean section,” Levett says.
“With the global emphasis on reducing caesarean section rates and the budgetary constraints faced by maternity providers, the potential benefits of this intervention may be significant from both a clinical and an economical perspective.”
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