A NEW survey of maternity hospitals has found that St Luke’s hospital in Kilkenny has the highest rate of Caesarean births in the country for first time mothers.
The survey which included the 22 maternity units around the country found that in St Luke’s Hospital 43% of first time mothers had their babies delivered by Caesarean section. The lowest rate of Caesarean births was in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street in Dublin, where just over 22% of first-time mothers have Caesarean sections.
The co-author of the survey, Niamh Healy, didn’t criticise the practice of Caesarean births, but the variation in the percentage of Caesareans carried out in different maternity units.
According to the HSE Caesarean birth can be beneficial and potentially life-saving for either mother or child, but depending on circumstances it may increase risk and can even be potentially life-threatening to both mother and child. The job of the obstetrician is to assess the situation and choose the correct birthing procedure.
A spokesperson for the HSE said “At St. Luke’s General Hospital for Carlow/Kilkenny, the perinatal mortality/morbidity rates (that is the number of deaths in a given population around the time of birth), are amongst the lowest in Ireland, and these rates are a reliable indicator of a high standard maternity service.
“It would be expected that there would be a variation between hospitals on their C-section rates because this procedure is carried out based on clinical need, taking in to account the individual woman’s history in relation to previous births or Caesarean sections; particularly where an urgent response is needed to specific maternal or fetal monitoring abnormalities during pregnancy or labour.
“Caesarean reviews take place weekly at St. Luke’s. The ethos that shapes clinical practice is to place the health of the mother and child at the centre of the care process. In recognition of this there are strong governance arrangements in place which involve dedicated weekly risk-assessment meetings. A consistent focus of these meetings is the rate of C- section within the hospitals. This risk monitoring process enables the rate of C-sections to be tracked and monitored.”
Dr Fionnuala McAuliffe, spokesperson for the institute of obstetricians and gynaecologists said that it was hard to judge on a single figure why the rates of Caesarean sections in St Luke’s were high she said “Caesarean sections can be carried out for a number of reasons. I think it is difficult to look at the rates of caesareans and conclude anything. It is much better to look at the outcomes and perinatal mortality in St Luke’s is very low.”