The proportion of babies born by Caesarean section in England remains double that recommended by the World Health Organisation, and the latest figures show no decline. Yet the annual round of breast-beating about the unacceptably high rate of Caesareans is irksome.
The sharp disparity in rates from one hospital trust to the next may be a cause for concern, though there are explanations more complex than the one favoured by midwives and (usually male) consultants, who chide women for being "too posh to push". The rise in multiple births, inadequate care during pregnancy and a hospital's fear of lawsuits may all contribute to the number of non-elective Caesareans. In fact, in the OECD, England's overall rate is average.
The high degree of safety, and the convenience – not just for mothers, but for families – in knowing when the baby will arrive should be hailed as progress. Today's women should be given the relevant information and left to make their choice.