'It's up to you...': How doctors influence women's birth choices following a Caesarean

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Only fifty percent of women opt to try for a natural birth after having a Caesarean. This is despite the fact that seventy percent would be successful. This week, Michael Bouwman talks to Dr Karen Goodall, whose research shows that women do not find current birth choice information, which focuses on risk of uterine rupture, useful, and that for many women the prospect of ending up with an emergency Caesarean if labour fails, means a trial of labour is seen as 'just not worth the risk'. Women often relinquish power for the second birth choice to health professionals due to issues of responsibility and guilt. Karen says to reduce the number of unnecessary Caesareans; we need to give more support to women considering labour, information about what led to the previous Caesarean and more individualised computations of the risks. Health care professionals also need to be aware of the language they use. She recommends using natural frequencies rather than percentages when discussing birth choice with women, and framing these in a positive way. She also says the term trial of labour should be replaced by something more positive.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Program of Psycho-Social Research Brisbane, Australia
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2011


  • birth choice
  • Pregnancy
  • caesarean section
  • vaginal birth
  • Interactions
  • healthcare professionals


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