You Are Entitled To An NHS C-Section If You Want One – Here’s How To Get It

A new study has found that a vaginal birth after a c-section is more dangerous, but women are still being pushed towards doing it.

You Are Entitled To A C-Section If You Want One - Here's How To Get One

by Rebecca Reid |

Researchers from the University of Oxford have found that it's more dangerous to give birth vaginally, if you've already had a c-section.

Researchers looked at the records of 74,043 babies born in Scotland between 2002 and 2015 to mums who had already had at least one caesarean before.

The women who attempted a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC) rather than opting for a further C-section were seven times more likely to experience uterine rupture, and they were twice as likely to require a blood transfusion. These women were also three times more likely to suffer a surgical injury.

Some VBACs are elective, from women who want to give birth vaginally despite the risk. However, parenting websites like Mumsnet and Netmums are littered with women who say they are being pressured to 'at least try' a vaginal birth after a c-section. Many of these women are extremely nervous about doing so.

If you are entitled to give birth on the NHS, you are entitled to do so by c-section. Doctors can advise you about whether or not it's the best option for you, and they can tell you that they disapprove or that you'd be better off doing it vaginally. But if you want a c-section rather than a vagainal birth, that's your choice, and they are obliged to give you one.

Despite the fact that you're entitled to a c-section, 15% of NHS trusts deny requests for elective c-sections.

A shocking number of women don't realise that it's up to them, not their doctor, how they give birth. The NHS will encourage you to avoid giving birth via section unless they judge it necessary because the recovery from a section is generally harder, and also because it is a major surgery. But that doesn't mean they get to choose.

There are plenty of good reasons that you might not want to give birth vaginally, from fear to previous sexual trauma. Or, as is common, because of a previous traumatic birth.

If your maternity care provider is resistant to your request for a c-section, remind them that NICE guidelines say you are entitled to one, explain your reasoning and hold your ground. If you want a c-section because you're afraid of giving birth vaginally then you might be asked to attend a counselling session or workshop, after which if you still feel that a c-section is the right choice you will be able to elect to have one.

During your maternity care you should feel comfortable, listened to and safe. If your provider is not listening to your concerns or treating you with respect, you do not have to grin and bear it. You can request to transfer to a different member of staff.

You can read more about c-sections, the process of having one and your entitlement on the NHS website.

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