Mother tells of pressure from hospital to have a caesarean

WHEN Bashi Hazard was in labour with her third child, an unknown obstetrician ''descended'' on her and said he wanted to push her arriving baby back inside her so he could perform a caesarean section.

''He was standing over me while I was in labour, demanding I consent to him putting me under and giving me the procedure,'' Mrs Hazard said.

''He told me to 'get a grip' when I explained I had my midwife with me, we had planned a normal vaginal birth and that we had already tested to make sure the baby and I were fine.''

With the support of her husband and midwife, Mrs Hazard was able to convince the obstetrician that she could give birth vaginally and Connor, now 11 months old, was born healthy and weighing 4.1 kilograms.

Mrs Hazard's first two children were delivered by caesarean section, which she said left her with post-natal depression and traumatised.

''With my first child I was 31 and fit but my obstetrician rang me every day trying to book me in for an induced birth because she said my baby was too big.

''I caved in and he was delivered by caesarean section, scrawny, sick and weighing 3.1 kilograms. The scaremongering in the private hospitals and the pressure to relinquish control and accept interventions is enormous.''

Mrs Hazard said obstetricians should disclose their intervention rates, following a study released by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) yesterday, which found healthy women giving birth in NSW private hospitals had a 20 per cent lower chance of their first child being born through normal vaginal delivery. It found interventions once considered a last resort, such as caesarean sections, were being routinely performed in the private sector.

But the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians, Rupert Sherwood, said women had never been more informed about child birth and rejected any notion that they were forced into procedures.

''Patients in private hospitals are very involved in their care [and] I would in no way regard them as a passive group to whom things would be done without their consent or agreement,'' Dr Sherwood said.

He criticised the University of Western Sydney study for including epidural anaesthesia as a surgical intervention.

''It's an aspect of modern obstetric care that has a place and is here to stay,'' he said.

The chief executive of the Australian Private Hospitals Association, Michael Roff, said he doubted negative experiences such as Mrs Hazard's were occurring to ''any great extent''.

''None of these incidents have ever been brought to my attention,'' he said.

''Ultimately, the decision about if intervention is warranted is up to the obstetrician making a clinical judgment in consultation with their patient.''

But the leader of the study and midwifery expert, Hannah Dahlen, said some obstetricians had an attitude of, ''I'm the expert and you will do what I say."

''For low-risk women there is nothing safer than a normal vaginal birth,'' Professor Dahlen said.

''I would never tell a woman not to choose intervention if she felt informed and that was her choice, but pregnancy should be led by the mother.''

It was concerning that caesareans were now seen as the ''norm'' for healthy women, she said.

- with James Robertson

As the accompanying caption in the original version of this story made clear, Dr Rupert Sherwood was not involved in the case referred to in this story.

The story Mother tells of pressure from hospital to have a caesarean first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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