The number of births by caesarean section in Malta needs to be reduced by half, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) established that the rate of C-sections in Malta is far too high.
In fact, 28.3 per cent of all childbirths in Malta last year were delivered by caesarean sections, with the highest-ever rate, 35 per cent, registered in 2006.
WHO has recommended that the rate be lowered to 15 per cent, meaning that the number of C-sections carried out should be almost half the current one.
But Malta is not the only country that has a high percentage of deliveries by C-section. In Austria it is 30 per cent and in the UK it was around 25 per cent in 2006.
According to the European Perinatal Health Report, the highest caesarean section rate was that of Italy at 37.8 per cent of total births, followed by Portugal with 33.1 per cent, Ireland 29.5 per cent and Malta 28.3 per cent. The lowest rate was recorded in Slovenia at 14.4 per cent.
The Malta Independent on Sunday spoke to midwife Sharon Vella about the disconcerting C-section rate prevailing in Malta, and questioned whether C-section rates are as high as they are because obstetricians push their patients to have the procedure.
Ms Vella said that this is not always the case.
“We have to empower women to go back to nature. They need to be better educated so they can get their opinion across. Unfortunately, many times they do not know any better and they just follow their gynaecologist’s instructions. Some find it difficult to go against what the doctor says but other are knowledgeable and look for information on the Internet.”
“Inducing a birth before it’s meant to happen might complicate matters. Women need to be aware of the pain after a C-section. A natural birth works wonders for both mother and baby. The C-section happens in the cold environment of an operating theatre and the baby is put in an incubator instead of immediately near the mother. A mother who has delivered a baby naturally feels the warmth of her baby around an hour after birth.”
Pregnancy and childbirth is a natural process and should require minimal medical intervention. Rates of induced labour and caesarean section in developed countries have increased in the last decade. Both procedures are associated with risks for the mother and foetus and provide an indicator of obstetric practice.
To educate mothers to choose the natural option, the Continuing Professional Development Unit at Mater Dei Hospital in collaboration with the National Council of Women and the Malta Midwives Association are organising a week of activities to raise awareness on normalising childbirth.
A conference on “Childbirth working towards women centred care” is to be held for maternity ward staff and another one for mothers to help them look into the decreased number of natural births and to empower women.
In both conferences various keynote speakers both local and foreign will address the conference. Those wishing to know more about the conference can call the Continuing Professional Development Unit of Mater Dei Hospital on 2545 5152.