The caesarean section (CS) rate is over 25% in many high‐income countries, with a substantial minority of CSs occurring in women with low‐risk pregnancies. CS decision‐making is influenced by clinician and patient beliefs and preferences, and clinical guidelines increasingly stipulate the importance of shared decision‐making (SDM). To what extent SDM occurs in practice is unclear.
To identify women’s birth preferences and SDM experience regarding planned CS.
Material and Methods
Survey of women at eight Sydney hospitals booked for planned CS. Demographic data, initial mode of birth preferences, reason for CS, and experiences of SDM were elicited using questions with multiple choice lists, Likert scales, and open‐ended responses. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data using content analysis. Responses of women who perceived their CS as ‘requested’ vs ‘recommended’ were compared.
Of 151 respondents, repeat CS (48%) and breech presentation (14%) were the most common indications. Only 32% stated that at the beginning of pregnancy they had a definite preference for spontaneous labour and birth. Key reasons for wanting planned CS were to avoid another emergency CS, prior positive CS experience, and logistical planning. Although 15% of women felt pressured (or were unsure) about their CS decision, the majority reported positive experiences, with over 90% indicating they were informed about CS benefits and risks, had adequate information, and understood information provided.
The majority (85%) of women appeared satisfied with the decision‐making process, regardless of whether they perceived their CS as requested or recommended.