Raani Russell with children Tara and Kayden, who were both born by emergency Caesarean.
Raani Russell with children Tara and Kayden, who were both born by emergency Caesarean. Rob Williams

Experts warn avoiding C-section not always best

COUPLES planning their first pregnancy may soon have another option for the arrival of their baby, with research out of the U.S. indicating that inducing childbirth at 39 weeks could lower the risk of complications and emergency caesarean sections.

However, local childbirth experts warn that the science is too new, and continuity of care remains the best opportunity for a trouble-free birth.

The 'ARRIVE' study released last month in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that inducing complication-free women at 39 weeks is at least as safe as spontaneous labour, but the National Director of the Australian College of Midwives, Teresa Walsh, warns the method may have limited benefits.

"More intervention doesn't usually lead to better outcomes. While we have this notion that babies are ready from 37 weeks, individual babies may need longer. Plus, with the uncertainty around date of conception for most mothers, you only have to be out by a few days to risk lung development issues and difficulty breathing," she said.

For North Booval mum Raani Russell, the option would be welcome if it were safer for mother and child. Both Tara, 3, and Kayden, 17 months, were delivered via emergency caesareans.

"I think that the main thing is safety. Tara was healthy and fine, but with Kayden's birth we had problems. If the option had been available, and we knew it was safer, we might have gone with it," Raani said.

Mrs Walsh, who is also the Director of New Life Midwifery Ipswich said that while there could be an application for this new technique for individual women, it was important to remember that all interventions increase the risk of complications and women being informed of their options is crucial.

"The evidence is very strong that midwifery continuity of care and supporting a woman one-on-one throughout pregnancy and childbirth gives the best outcomes of all," she said.



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