Do I have a right to a c-section? Update on Oxford University Hospitals

On 24th May we launched a campaign to engage with Trusts who state that they do not offer maternal request caesarean sections, thereby denying women the individual respect and consideration they are entitled to. The first Trust we wrote to was Oxford University Hospitals whose policy on offering planned caesarean sections is stated in this leaflet:

OUH responded to our original letter stating that their approach was in full compliance with NICE guidelines, and that they offered a “kind, friendly and professional service”. Unfortunately the reports we have received of women not being listened too, being left shaken by consultations, and being left distressed and anxious knowing that their request for a caesarean section would not be granted by OUH, are at odds with OUH’s account.  Therefore, this week, we wrote again to the Trust, their Commissioners, Healthwatch Oxfordshire and the CQC, to share some of your stories and to urge them to reconsider their approach. If you would like to tell us about your experience or requesting a maternal request caesarean section at OUH or elsewhere, please comment below…

Letter to R Schiller (Birthrights) from OUH

Second letter to OUH from Birthrights with case studies

6 thoughts on “Do I have a right to a c-section? Update on Oxford University Hospitals

  1. I was denied an elective ceasarean section with my daughter almost 18 months ago. I requested it because of a chronic bladder condition and pelvic floor dysfunction. I was told a vaginal delivery was recommended over a c section. I went on to deliver vaginally after a long induction. I was given an episiotomy and then sustained a bad 3rd degree tear. I have been left with muscle damage that can’t be fixed and will face bowel issues in later life. This was exactly the scenario I was trying to avoid when I requested the section and I will forever regret not following my gut and being more forceful. It is a shame women all over the UK are not making decisions about their own health and bodies, I can’t understand how such a lack of consent can exist in this area of medicine. And all for saving money. I feel I had been allowed the section I requested it would have saved the NHS thousands…I have been seen by my hospital every month for 18 months, god knows what the cost of that was. It just makes me sad that women are made to feel guilty or even stupid when they choose the mode of delivery, we should have control over our bodies and medical treatment.

  2. My cousin DIED from direct complications of repeat elective Caesarean section. She left her husband with 2 children under 1 years old. They have never really known their lovely mother. This is the ultimate price by choosing CS and one that is less likely after vaginal birth. I understand choice, anxiety, fear and the outcome of abuse and the effect this has, but it has to be balanced against the real risks of CS and the effect on families. Oxford does care and has to look at the whole picture.

    • So so sorry to hear that Anita, that is terribly sad. However, there is not clear evidence that planned c section has higher maternal death rate than planned vaginal birth. The results from studies are conflicting. (See NICE 2011 Cesarean Guideline) Added to this, planned caesarean births are usually offered to women and/or babies with more risk factors and the raw data does not take account of this. Maternal death is absolutely the worse outcome anyone can image. Sadly women still die as a consequence of both planned vaginal and planned caesarean birth and many of these deaths could be avoided. However, there is no evidence it has anything to do with planned mode of birth.

  3. After being 17days over due following fail induction with pessaries
    I asked for a c-section and was advised that St Mars Manchester di not
    Do maternal request c-sections.
    I was 17days over as there was a waiting list to have your waters broke -not by choice but still it wasn’t an option.

    Eventually after the drip also failed I give birth with forceps in theatre but was wa ms all set for an emergency c-section which carries more risk then a planned procedure. I felt under valued and out of control that medicwere choosing how I give birth. The experience resulted in complications a hospital stay and birth trauma requiring counselling and additional aupport. Slot more expensive for the NHS – but I guess the individual hospital didn’t have to mop up the cost so they don’t get to know the aftermath of their actions. Maybe If they were charged for the “clean up@ they’d look different at it

  4. Sadly none of the case studies here surprise me. Royal Berkshire Hospital has the same policy as Oxford and every woman within the area is given a letter at their booking appointment to say they do not offer maternal request c section. This is obviously designed to shut the conversation down before its started and is really terrifying for women who have many reasons for wanting a caesarian whether it be anxiety or past abuse, or a previous traumatic birth. The letter even states a previous section is not a good enough reason to warrant another, aggressively pushing vbac as the best option. I met a consultant who, after waiting 18 weeks for an appointment and who was 90 minutes late to the meeting, simply said ‘we don’t do maternal request c section’. I practically had a panic attack in her office. When asked if she could refer me to another consultant as per NICE guidelines she said no consultant here will agree to it. Note there was also no offer of counselling or support which also contravenes the guidelines. I did eventually get my caesarian agreed thanks to the intervention of my wonderful GP and i am very grateful for this but I really feel for those women who are vulnerable or lacking in confidence to assert themselves with this. It is those women who end up ignored, scared and unsupported.

    • I have just had my first booking-in appointment with my midwife and was surprised to find the letter regarding elective c-sections (as you detail above) provided as standard in the pregnancy record book. I previously had an emergency c-section and at least expected to be consulted / advised / listened to, before being shut down with regards to an elective cesarean. I agree with you that it seems to intend to shut-down any conversation before it even starts, but it seems a very strange way to deal with women who need support after a difficult first birth.

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