Caesarean Section Rates Report

AIMS Ireland are deeply concerned by findings in this most recent report from the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System for last year, which tracks trends across the health service.with respect to our Caesarean Section Rates.

A ranking of 5th out of 38 OECD countries in terms of caesarean section rates should serve as a stark wake up call to policy makers and service users alike. 

The WHO state a figure of between 10% -15% as a safe rate for caesarean sections, rates above or below this figure are an indication of under or over use of this surgical procedure without ANY ADDED benefits for maternal or perinatal mortality.

Aims Ireland Chair Krysia Lynch said “With Irish c section rates currently averaging 1 in 3 births (a combined rate for first and subsequent mothers of 36.6%), and much higher in some units,  and climbing rapidly, this issue needs urgent investigation and review.

Lynch continued “We know that rates for first time parents are in general at least 5% higher than the combined rate,  and sometimes up to 10% higher,  which means we are now approaching a situation where one in two first time mothers in Ireland going through our hospital maternity system will give by via major abdominal surgery“.

Surgical birth is major abdominal surgery which poses immediate short and long term health consequences for mother, infant and all future pregnancies. 

AIMS research officer Claire Kerin said “It’s time we stop blaming mothers for being too fat, too old and too unhealthy and look instead at other factors pointed to in this report.” 

Kerin continued “We have serious issues in our system in relation to our threshold for risk and how it is understood and managed and cultural and systemic practises, and fear of being sued, which put mothers and infants at increased risk for caesarean section.

We need to look again at the recommendations not yet met by our National Maternity Care Strategy: more choices for pregnant people, more birthing options outside of hospital settings including birthing centres and homebirth and most importantly urgent investment in continuity of carer during pregnancy, birth and postpartum which has consistently been proven to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. 

Let’s not normalise these high c section rates but use them to critically reflect on our maternity care system and practises.

AIMS Ireland 3rd April 2024

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