ONE of Scotland’s top midwives has called for NHS boards to be made to justify caesarean operations.
Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives, said there was a “great deal of concern” that the operation was being given so women could avoid a painful labour.
She said health boards should have to explain why the procedure was being carried out in each case.
She said: “We need to know what is behind the rise in caesarean sections because there is a great deal of concern about it.
“It is a major abdominal operation and it would be wrong if it’s being given to women who regard it as a default option to a painful labour.
“We need to know that they are being done for the correct reasons, and I think health boards should be asked to explain the reasons for every procedeure.
Around 12% of births in Scotland are by caesarean section.
Health statistics body ISD said numbers of non-emergency caesarean rose by more than 80% between 1998 (3,887) and 2012 (7021).
In a report last year, they said possible reasons were “differences in clinical practices” and “women’s choices”.
A rise in obesity is also thought to be a factor.
Some women also have a phobia of dying in childbirth, called tocophobia.
The reasons for the increase are not currently known, as health boards are not required to explain why the procedure is being carried out.
But there have been claims that the increase is due to an attempt to reduce the number of still births.
The World Health Organisation said caesareans can be needed when natural birth would cause a risk to health, but are too risky to be done soley for reasons of personal preference.
A spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said: “Caesareans are a safe medical procedure but as with any intervention there are risks involved.
“All doctros must ensure that women are informed about the risks and benefits of procedures undertaken and alternative option.
“Women must have access to good-quality information so they can make informed decisions.”