Natural births decline as Caesars reign supreme

The number of Australian women having natural births is at an all-time low, with the numbers of women having caesareans and induced births are increasing.
A national maternity report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today revealed that birth interventions are increasingly prevalent in both public and private hospitals.
The number of women having natural vaginal births has fallen from 51.9 per cent in 2004 to 49.6 per cent in 2009.
Caesareans have increased in that same time period, from 25.3 per cent of births in 2004 to 27.1 per cent in 2009.
The report also noted substantial differences in the rate of birth intervention in public and private hospitals, with private sector patients significantly less likely to have a natural vaginal birth and more likely to have a caesarean or induced birth.
Between 2004 and 2009, 56.7 per cent of public patients had a normal vaginal birth, compared to just 36.9 per cent of private patients.
During the same time period, 34.2 per cent of women who gave birth in a private hospital had caesareans, compared with 22.6 per cent of public hospital patients.
Induced births were also more prevalent in private hospitals, with 35 per cent of all private maternity patients being induced, compared to 30 per cent of public patients.
The report was based on data taken from a select group of "lower risk" women aged 20 to 34.
They were all expecting singe babies in the correct birthing position, born between 37 and 41 weeks.
The report also looked into the number of women smoking whilst pregnant and reported a fall in overall findings — although 51 per cent of indigenous women still reported smoking while pregnant.

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