Hannah Dahlen is a practicing midwife. She receives funding from the NHMRC and is affiliated with the Australian College of Midwives (national spokesperson).
Sue Kruske is Director of the QCMB, which is funded by the Queensland Government and provides women with unbiased and evidence-based information on their options for birth at www.havingababy.org.au. Sue sits on a number of state and national committees including the Queensland Midwifery Advisory Group and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council Registered Midwife Accreditation Committee.
The proportion of Queensland women giving birth via caesarean section has increased by a staggering 74% in the past 20 years. This wouldn’t be of concern if more babies’ lives were saved as a result but the evidence suggests otherwise.
There’s a belief among some in the health industry and wider community that women who are “too posh to push” are driving the increase. But this myth has been consistently busted, most recently with a study from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mothers & Babies (QCMB), which surveyed more than 22,000 Queensland mums about their maternity experience.
Of women who gave birth in Australian hospitals in 2009, around a third (32.6%) had a caesarean section delivery. The caesarean section rate of 42.5% for women in private hospitals was higher than for women in public hospitals (28.4%).
The overall caesarean section rate for women giving birth in Queensland hospitals (public or private) was 33.9%, which isn’t much higher than the national average. But Queensland tops the list for the highest rate of caesarean section deliveries in private hospitals, accounting for almost half of all births (47.9%), followed by Western Australia (41.8%) and Northern Territory (41.0%).