This journal article looks into the rising rate of women having obstetric intervention during low risk births compared with the previous decade.
In Australia, the national statistics reveal that 34% of women giving birth in 2009 elected private status, with 30% of women giving birth in private hospitals directly under private obstetric care. The remaining women were public patients and received a combination of midwifery and medical care in public hospitals, with around 4% of privately insured women also giving birth in a public hospital. At a national level the intervention rates in childbirth, such as caesarean section, are significantly higher in the private sector (43% vs 28%) and the rates of normal vaginal birth significantly lower (43% vs 62%).
The overall caesarean section rate in Australia (32%) is significantly higher than the OECD average of 25.7% of births. Despite the rising intervention rates over the past decade the perinatal death rate has not shown a corresponding decline. There is also growing concern that the short-term and long-term morbidity associated with major obstetric interventions such as caesarean may not be insignificant for the mother and the baby.