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1.  Planned Vaginal Birth or Elective Repeat Caesarean: Patient Preference Restricted Cohort with Nested Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001192.
A study conducted in Australia provides new data on the outcomes for mother and baby associated with either planned vaginal birth, or elective repeat caesarean section following a previous caesarean section.
Background
Uncertainty exists about benefits and harms of a planned vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) compared with elective repeat caesarean (ERC). We conducted a prospective restricted cohort study consisting of a patient preference cohort study, and a small nested randomised trial to compare benefits and risks of a planned ERC with planned VBAC.
Methods and findings
2,345 women with one prior caesarean, eligible for VBAC at term, were recruited from 14 Australian maternity hospitals. Women were assigned by patient preference (n = 2,323) or randomisation (n = 22) to planned VBAC (1,225 patient preference, 12 randomised) or planned ERC (1,098 patient preference, ten randomised). The primary outcome was risk of fetal death or death of liveborn infant before discharge or serious infant outcome. Data were analysed for the 2,345 women (100%) and infants enrolled.
The risk of fetal death or liveborn infant death prior to discharge or serious infant outcome was significantly lower for infants born in the planned ERC group compared with infants in the planned VBAC group (0.9% versus 2.4%; relative risk [RR] 0.39; 95% CI 0.19–0.80; number needed to treat to benefit 66; 95% CI 40–200). Fewer women in the planned ERC group compared with women in the planned VBAC had a major haemorrhage (blood loss ≥1,500 ml and/or blood transfusion), (0.8% [9/1,108] versus 2.3% [29/1,237]; RR 0.37; 95% CI 0.17–0.80).
Conclusions
Among women with one prior caesarean, planned ERC compared with planned VBAC was associated with a lower risk of fetal and infant death or serious infant outcome. The risk of major maternal haemorrhage was reduced with no increase in maternal or perinatal complications to time of hospital discharge. Women, clinicians, and policy makers can use this information to develop health advice and make decisions about care for women who have had a previous caesarean.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53974531
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Rates of caesarean section are rising around the world, particularly in high- and middle-income countries, where most women have a choice of how their baby is delivered. Historically, the obstetrician in charge of the woman's care made the decision on whether to perform an elective (planned) caesarean section based on medical criteria. For women who have had a previous caesarean section, typically, their options for mode of childbirth are either a trial of vaginal birth or an elective repeat caesarean section. The proportion of women attempting a vaginal birth after a previous caesarean section has been declining in many countries partly due to the variable chance of achieving a successful vaginal birth (reported between 56% and 80%) and partly because of negative reports of the risk of complications, both to the mother and the baby, of a having a vaginal delivery following a caesarean section. Consequently, the rates of repeat caesarean section have risen sharply, for example, currently 83% in Australia and almost 90% in the US.
Why Was This Study Done?
Both elective repeat caesarean section and subsequent vaginal delivery after a previous caesarean section have clinical risks and benefits. Most obviously, having a surgical procedure puts the woman having the repeat caesarean section at risk of surgical complications, especially if performed under a general anesthetic, and her baby may be at risk of respiratory complications. However, subsequent vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section may put the mother at risk of bleeding severely enough to need a blood transfusion (more than 1,500 ml blood loss) and she may also be at increased risk of rupturing her uterus; and her baby may have an increased risk of dying or of becoming brain damaged due to lack of oxygen.
However, to date there have been no randomized controlled trials of elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section to compare the health outcomes of mother and baby and a recent systematic review could draw no conclusions. So the researchers conducted this prospective cohort study based on patient preference (with a few women agreeing to be randomized to mode of delivery), to compare the health outcomes for mother and baby for elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery in women following a previous caesarean section.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2002 and 2007, the researchers recruited 2,345 suitable women (that is, women who had one previous caesarean section, were currently 37 weeks pregnant with a single baby, and who were clinically able to have a vaginal delivery) from 14 maternity hospitals throughout Australia. A few women (22) agreed to be randomized to either mode of delivery but most women chose her preferred option. Then, depending on the woman's preferences for mode of birth, participating obstetricians either scheduled a date for an elective caesarean section (1,098 women) or assessed on-going suitability for the woman to have a planned vaginal delivery (1,225 women). However only 535 (43.2%) women who chose to have a vaginal birth were able to deliver this way because of failure to progress in labor or fetal distress: 334 of these women (27.0%) had to have an elective caesarean section and 368 women had to have an emergency caesarean section.
Although no women died, women who had a planned caesarean section experienced less severe bleeding than women who delivered vaginally. There were no infant deaths in those born by elective caesarean section but two unexplained stillbirths in the planned vaginal delivery group. There was also a reduced risk of nonfatal serious outcome before discharge from hospital for infants delivered by in the elective caesarean section. The researchers calculated that one infant death or near death would be prevented for every 66 elective caesarean sections performed in women who had a previous caesarean section.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in women who had delivered by a previous caesarean section delivering their next baby by planned caesarean section was associated with less infant death and better health outcomes for the mother before she was discharged from the hospital compared to women who had a subsequent vaginal delivery. This information can be used by women, clinicians, and policy makers in helping to make decisions about the mode of subsequent deliveries and best care for women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Fitzpatrick and colleagues and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192
PMCID: PMC3302845  PMID: 22427749
2.  Uterine Rupture by Intended Mode of Delivery in the UK: A National Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001184.
A case-control study using UK data estimates the risk of uterine rupture in subsequent deliveries amongst women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Background
Recent reports of the risk of morbidity due to uterine rupture are thought to have contributed in some countries to a decrease in the number of women attempting a vaginal birth after caesarean section. The aims of this study were to estimate the incidence of true uterine rupture in the UK and to investigate and quantify the associated risk factors and outcomes, on the basis of intended mode of delivery.
Methods and Findings
A UK national case-control study was undertaken between April 2009 and April 2010. The participants comprised 159 women with uterine rupture and 448 control women with a previous caesarean delivery. The estimated incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities overall; 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities in women with a previous caesarean delivery planning vaginal or elective caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women with a previous caesarean delivery, odds of rupture were also increased in women who had ≥ two previous caesarean deliveries (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.02, 95% CI 1.16–7.85) and <12 months since their last caesarean delivery (aOR 3.12, 95% CI 1.62–6.02). A higher risk of rupture with labour induction and oxytocin use was apparent (aOR 3.92, 95% CI 1.00–15.33). Two women with uterine rupture died (case fatality 1.3%, 95% CI 0.2–4.5%). There were 18 perinatal deaths associated with uterine rupture among 145 infants (perinatal mortality 124 per 1,000 total births, 95% CI 75–189).
Conclusions
Although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, even amongst women with a previous caesarean section planning a vaginal delivery, it is a rare occurrence. For women with a previous caesarean section, risk of uterine rupture increases with number of previous caesarean deliveries, a short interval since the last caesarean section, and labour induction and/or augmentation. These factors should be considered when counselling and managing the labour of women with a previous caesarean section.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Uterine rupture is a serious complication of pregnancy in which the wall of the uterus (womb) tears during pregnancy or early labor. Signs and symptoms of uterine rupture include fetal heart rate abnormalities, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding. If uterine rupture happens during labor, the woman must have an immediate caesarean section (surgical delivery of her baby) to save both her life and that of her baby. The woman's womb and nearby organs can be damaged at rupture or removed during surgery and she may need a blood transfusion because of severe bleeding. Moreover, her baby may develop respiratory distress syndrome and other life-threatening complications. In high income countries, uterine rupture most commonly occurs in women who have delivered a previous pregnancy by caesarean section. In a caesarean section, the baby is delivered through a cut made through the abdominal wall and the uterine wall. The stretching that occurs during pregnancy or the strong contractions of labor can tear the scar left by this cut, resulting in uterine rupture.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women who have had a caesarean delivery are generally encouraged to try to deliver subsequent babies vaginally. However, recent reports of an increased risk of complications (morbidity) and death (mortality) due to uterine rupture are thought to reduce women's willingness to attempt vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) in some countries. In the UK, for example, where one in four babies is delivered by caesarean section, a previous caesarean delivery is one of commonest reasons for a repeat section. Obstetricians (doctors who care for women during child birth) need to know as much as possible about the incidence of uterine rupture and about the risk factors for it so that they can advise women who have had a previous caesarean section about their delivery options. In this national case-control study (a study that compares the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition), the researchers estimate the incidence of uterine rupture in the UK by intended mode of delivery and investigate and quantify the risk factors for and outcomes of uterine rupture.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) to identify all the women in the UK who had a uterine rupture over a 13-month period (159 women, 139 of whom had had a previous caesarean delivery). Controls for the study were women who had not had a uterine rupture but who had previously delivered by caesarean section. Overall, the incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities. In women with a previous caesarean delivery, 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities ended in uterine rupture in women planning vaginal delivery and caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women who had had a previous caesarean delivery, the risk of uterine rupture was greater among those who had had two or more previous caesarean deliveries or a caesarean delivery less than 12 months previously, or whose labor was induced. Two women died following uterine rupture (a case fatality of 1.3%) and 18 babies died around the time of birth (a perinatal mortality rate of 124 per 1,000 live births; the UK perinatal mortality rate is 7.5 per 1,000 live births). 15 of the women who had a uterine rupture had their womb removed, 10 had other organs damaged, and nearly half had other complications; 19 of the surviving babies had health problems.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the UK, although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, it is a rare occurrence even among women who have had a previous caesarean delivery and are planning a vaginal delivery. They also indicate that, for women who have previously had a caesarean section, the risk of rupture increases with the number of previous caesarean deliveries, with a short interval since the last caesarean section, and with labor induction. Although the researchers may not have identified all the women who had a uterine rupture during the study period or may have identified only the worst cases, these findings provide valuable information about the factors that obstetricians need to consider when advising women who have previously had a caesarean section and when managing their labor.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Caroline Crowther and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
Wikipedia has a page on uterine rupture (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK has information for women on birth after previous caesarean
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
A personal story of uterine rupture during an attempted VBAC is available
The UK Obstetric Surveillance System studies rare disorders of pregnancy in the UK
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184
PMCID: PMC3302846  PMID: 22427745
3.  Timing of birth for women with a twin pregnancy at term: a randomised controlled trial 
Background
There is a well recognized risk of complications for both women and infants of a twin pregnancy, increasing beyond 37 weeks gestation. Preterm birth prior to 37 weeks gestation is a recognized complication of a twin pregnancy, however, up to 50% of twins will be born after this time.
The aims of this randomised trial are to assess whether elective birth at 37 weeks gestation compared with standard care in women with a twin pregnancy affects the risk of perinatal death, and serious infant complications.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred randomised trial.
Inclusion Criteria: women with a twin pregnancy at 366 weeks or more without contraindication to continuation of pregnancy.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Following written informed consent, eligible women will be randomised from 36+6 weeks gestation. The randomisation schedule uses balanced variable blocks, with stratification for centre of birth and planned mode of birth. Women will be randomised to either elective birth or standard care.
Treatment Schedules: Women allocated to the elective birth group will be planned for elective birth from 37 weeks gestation. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve induction of labour. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section. For women allocated to standard care, birth will be planned for 38 weeks gestation or later. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve either awaiting the spontaneous onset of labour, or induction of labour if required. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section (after 38 and as close to 39 weeks as possible).
Primary Study Outcome: A composite of perinatal mortality or serious neonatal morbidity.
Sample Size: 460 women with a twin pregnancy to show a reduction in the composite outcome from 16.3% to 6.7% with adjustment for the clustering of twin infants within mothers (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomised trial, the findings of which will contribute information about the optimal time of birth for women with an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy at and beyond 37 weeks gestation.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN15761056
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-68
PMCID: PMC2978123  PMID: 20973989
4.  Caesarean section versus vaginal delivery for preterm birth in singletons 
Background
Planned caesarean delivery for women thought be in preterm labour may be protective for baby, but could also be quite traumatic for both mother and baby. The optimal mode of delivery of preterm babies for both cephalic and breech presentation remains, therefore, controversial.
Objectives
To assess the effects of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth for women in preterm labour.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (24 April 2012).
Selection criteria
Randomised trials comparing a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal delivery for preterm birth.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
We included six studies (involving 122 women) but only four studies (involving only 116 women) contributed data to the analyses.
Infant
There were very little data of relevance to the three main (primary) outcomes considered in this review: There was no significant difference between planned immediate caesarean section and planned vaginal delivery with respect to birth injury to infant (risk ratio (RR) 0.56, 95%, confidence interval (CI) 0.05 to 5.62; one trial, 38 women) or birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; onetrial, 12 women). The only cases of birth trauma were a laceration of the buttock in a baby who was delivered by caesarean section and mild bruising in another allocated to the group delivered vaginally.
The difference between the two groups with regard to perinatal deaths was not significant (0.29, 95% CI 0.07 to 1.14; three trials, 89 women) and there were no data specifically relating to neonatal admission to special care and/or intensive care unit.
There was also no difference between the caesarean or vaginal delivery groups in terms of markers of possible birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; one trial, 12 women) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.60; four trials, 115 women) and no difference in attempts at breastfeeding (RR 1.40, 95% 0.11 to 17.45; one trial, 12 women). There was also no difference in neonatal fitting/seizures (RR 0.22, 95% CI 0.01 to 4.32; three trials, 77 women), hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (RR 4.00, 95% CI 0.20 to 82.01;one trial, 12 women) or respiratory distress syndrome (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.27 to 1.10; three trials, 103 women). There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to meconium aspiration. There was also no significant difference between the two groups for abnormal follow-up in childhood (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.19 to 2.22; one trial, 38 women) or delivery less than seven days after entry (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.24; two trials, 51 women).
Mother
There were no data reported on maternal admissions to intensive care. However, there were seven cases of major maternal postpartum complications in the group allocated to planned immediate caesarean section and none in the group randomised to vaginal delivery (RR 7.21, 95% CI 1.37 to 38.08; four trials, 116 women).
There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to maternal satisfaction (postnatal). There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to postpartum haemorrhage. A number of non-prespecified secondary outcomes were also considered in the analyses. There was a significant advantage for women in the vaginal delivery group with respect to maternal puerperal pyrexia (RR 2.98, 95% CI 1.18 to 7.53; three trials, 89 women) and other maternal infection (RR 2.63, 95% CI 1.02 to 6.78; three trials, 103 women), but no significant differences in wound infection (RR 1.16, 95% CI 0.18 to 7.70; three trials, 103 women), maternal stay more than 10 days (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.35 to 4.65; three trials, 78 women) or the need for blood transfusion (results not estimable).
Authors’ conclusions
There is not enough evidence to evaluate the use of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery for preterm babies. Further studies are needed in this area, but recruitment is proving difficult.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000078.pub2
PMCID: PMC4164504  PMID: 22696314
*Delivery, Obstetric; *Obstetric Labor, Premature; Birth Injuries [etiology]; Cesarean Section [adverse effects]; Infant, Newborn; Infant, Premature; Infant, Small for Gestational Age; Perinatal Mortality; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Surgical Procedures, Elective; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
5.  Does continuity of care impact decision making in the next birth after a caesarean section (VBAC)? a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Caesarean section (CS) has short and long-term health effects for both the woman and her baby. One of the greatest contributors to the CS rate is elective repeat CS. Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) is an option for many women; despite this the proportion of women attempting VBAC remains low. Potentially the relationship that women have with their healthcare professional may have a major influence on the uptake of VBAC. Models of service delivery, which enable an individual approach to care, may make a difference to the uptake of VBAC. Midwifery continuity of care could be an effective model to encourage and support women to choose VBAC.
Methods/Design
A randomised, controlled trial will be undertaken. Eligible pregnant women, whose most recent previous birth was by lower-segment CS, will be randomly allocated 1:1 to an intervention group or control group. The intervention provides midwifery continuity of care to women through pregnancy, labour, birth and early postnatal care. The control group will receive standard hospital care from different midwives through pregnancy, labour, birth and early postnatal care. Both groups will receive an obstetric consultation during pregnancy and at any other time if required. Clinical care will follow the same guidelines in both groups.
Discussion
This study will determine whether midwifery continuity of care influences the decision to attempt a VBAC and impacts on mode of birth, maternal experiences with care and the health of the neonate. Outcomes from this study might influence the way maternity care is provided to this group of women and thus impact on the CS rate. This information will provide high level evidence to policy makers, health service managers and practitioners who are working towards addressing the increased rate of CS.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12611001214921
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-140
PMCID: PMC3717054  PMID: 23819882
Vaginal birth; Obstetrics; Caesarean section; Midwifery care; Vaginal birth after caesarean
6.  Caesarean section for non-medical reasons at term 
Background
Caesarean section rates are progressively rising in many parts of the world. One suggested reason is increasing requests by women for caesarean section in the absence of clear medical indications, such as placenta praevia, HIV infection, contracted pelvis and, arguably, breech presentation or previous caesarean section. The reported benefits of planned caesarean section include greater safety for the baby, less pelvic floor trauma for the mother, avoidance of labour pain and convenience. The potential disadvantages, from observational studies, include increased risk of major morbidity or mortality for the mother, adverse psychological sequelae, and problems in subsequent pregnancies, including uterine scar rupture and a greater risk of stillbirth and neonatal morbidity. The differences in neonatal physiology following vaginal and caesarean births are thought to have implications for the infant, with caesarean section potentially increasing the risk of compromised health in both the short and the long term. An unbiased assessment of advantages and disadvantages would assist discussion of what has become a contentious issue in modern obstetrics.
Objectives
To assess, from randomised trials, the effects on perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, and on maternal psychological morbidity, of planned caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth in women with no clear clinical indication for caesarean section.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (31 January 2012) and reference lists of relevant studies.
Selection criteria
All comparisons of intention to perform caesarean section and intention for women to give birth vaginally; random allocation to treatment and control groups; adequate allocation concealment; women at term with single fetuses with cephalic presentations and no clear medical indication for caesarean section.
Data collection and analysis
We identified no studies that met the inclusion criteria.
Main results
There were no included trials.
Authors’ conclusions
There is no evidence from randomised controlled trials, upon which to base any practice recommendations regarding planned caesarean section for non-medical reasons at term. In the absence of trial data, there is an urgent need for a systematic review of observational studies and a synthesis of qualitative data to better assess the short- and long-term effects of caesarean section and vaginal birth.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004660.pub3
PMCID: PMC4171389  PMID: 22419296
*Cesarean Section [adverse effects; psychology]; *Term Birth; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
7.  Planned caesarean section for women with a twin pregnancy 
Background
Twin pregnancies are associated with increased perinatal mortality, mainly related to prematurity, but complications during birth may contribute to perinatal loss or morbidity. The option of planned caesarean section to avoid such complications must therefore be considered. On the other hand, randomised trials of other clinical interventions in the birth process to avoid problems related to labour and birth (planned caesarean section for breech, and continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring), have shown an unexpected discordance between short-term perinatal morbidity and long-term neurological outcome. The risks of caesarean section for the mother in the current and subsequent pregnancies must also be taken into account.
Objectives
To determine the short- and long-term effects on mothers and their babies, of planned caesarean section for twin pregnancy.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (30 September 2011).
Selection criteria
Randomised trials comparing a policy of caesarean section with planned vaginal birth for women with twin pregnancy.
Data collection and analysis
Two researchers independently assessed eligibility, quality and extracted data. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
One small trial with unconfirmed allocation concealment compared caesarean section with planned vaginal birth in 60 women with vertex/non-vertex twin pregnancies. There were no differences in perinatal outcome. The trial was too small to exclude the possibility of clinically meaningful benefits of either approach. There is one additional trial currently ongoing.
Authors’ conclusions
There is a lack of robust evidence to guide clinical advice regarding the method of birth for twin pregnancies. Women should be informed of possible benefits and risks of either approach, including short-term and long-term consequences for both mother and babies. Future research should aim to provide unbiased evidence, including long-term outcomes.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006553.pub2
PMCID: PMC4110647  PMID: 22161406
*Pregnancy Outcome; *Pregnancy; Twin; Cesarean Section [adverse effects; *methods]; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
8.  Rate of spontaneous onset of labour before planned repeat caesarean section at term 
Background
Guidelines recommend that, in the absence of compelling medical indications (low risk) elective caesarean section should occur after 38 completed weeks gestation. However, implementation of these guidelines will mean some women go into labour before the planned date resulting in an intrapartum caesarean section. The aim of this study was to determine the rate at which low-risk women planned for repeat caesarean section go into spontaneous labour before 39 weeks.
Methods
We conducted a population-based cohort study of women who were planned to have an elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS) at 39-41 weeks gestation in New South Wales Australia, 2007-2010. Labour, delivery and health outcome information was obtained from linked birth and hospital records for the entire population. Women with no pre-existing medical or pregnancy complications were categorized as ‘low risk’. The rate of spontaneous labour before 39 weeks was determined and variation in the rate for subgroups of women was examined using univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results
Of 32,934 women who had ERCS as the reported indication for caesarean section, 17,314 (52.6%) were categorised as ‘low-risk’. Of these women, 1,473 (8.5% or 1 in 12) had spontaneous labour or prelabour rupture of the membranes before 39 weeks resulting in an intrapartum caesarean section. However the risk of labour <39 weeks varied depending on previous delivery history: 25% (1 in 4) for those with spontaneous preterm labour in a prior pregnancy; 15% (1 in 7) for women with a prior planned preterm birth (by labour induction or prelabour caesarean) and 6% (1 in 17) among those who had only previously had a planned caesarean section at term. Smoking in pregnancy was also associated with spontaneous labour. Women with spontaneous labour prior to a planned CS in the index pregnancy were at increased risk of out-of-hours delivery, and maternal and neonatal morbidity.
Conclusions
These findings allow clinicians to more accurately determine the likelihood that a planned caesarean section may become an intrapartum caesarean section, and to advise their patients accordingly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-125
PMCID: PMC3975468  PMID: 24694261
Cohort study; Elective repeat caesarean section; Labour; Record linkage
9.  The utility of clinical care pathways in determining perinatal outcomes for women with one previous caesarean section; a retrospective service evaluation 
Background
The rising rates of primary caesarean section have resulted in a larger obstetric population with scarred uteri. Subsequent pregnancies in these women are risk-prone and may complicate. Besides ensuring standardised management, care pathways could be used to evaluate for perinatal outcomes in these high risk pregnancies. We aim to demonstrate the use of a care pathway for vaginal birth after caesarean section as a service evaluation tool to determine perinatal outcomes.
Methods
A retrospective service evaluation by review of delivery case notes and records was undertaken at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya between January 2008 and December 2009
Women with ≥2 previous caesarean sections, previous classical caesarean section, multiple gestation, breech presentation, severe pre-eclampsia, transverse lie, placenta praevia, conditions requiring induction of labour and incomplete records were excluded. Outcome measures included the proportion of eligible women who opted for test of scar (ToS), success rate of vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC); proportion on women opting for elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS) and their perinatal outcomes.
Results
A total of 215 women with one previous caesarean section were followed up using a standard care pathway. The median parity (minimum-maximum) was 1.0[1-4]. The other demographic characteristics were comparable. Only 44.6% of eligible mothers opted to have a ToS. The success rate for VBAC was 49.4% with the commonest (31.8%) reason for failure being protracted active phase of labour. Maternal morbidity was comparable for the failed and successful VBAC group. The incidence of hemorrhage was 2.3% and 4.4% for the successful and failed VBAC groups respectively. The proportion of babies with acidotic arterial PH (< 7.10) was 3.1% and 22.2% among the successful and failed VBAC groups respectively. No perinatal mortality was reported.
Conclusions
Besides ensuring standardised management, care pathways could be objective audit and service evaluation tools for determining perinatal outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-62
PMCID: PMC2964563  PMID: 20946628
10.  Outcomes of Induction of Labour in Women with Previous Caesarean Delivery: A Retrospective Cohort Study Using a Population Database 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60404.
Background
There is evidence that induction of labour (IOL) around term reduces perinatal mortality and caesarean delivery rates when compared to expectant management of pregnancy (allowing the pregnancy to continue to await spontaneous labour or definitive indication for delivery). However, it is not clear whether IOL in women with a previous caesarean section confers the same benefits. The aim of this study was to describe outcomes of IOL at 39–41 weeks in women with one previous caesarean delivery and to compare outcomes of IOL or planned caesarean delivery to those of expectant management.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study of singleton births greater than 39 weeks gestation, in women with one previous caesarean delivery, in Scotland, UK 1981–2007 (n = 46,176). Outcomes included mode of delivery, perinatal mortality, neonatal unit admission, postpartum hemorrhage and uterine rupture. 40.1% (2,969/7,401) of women who underwent IOL 39–41 weeks were ultimately delivered by caesarean. When compared to expectant management IOL was associated with lower odds of caesarean delivery (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] after IOL at 39 weeks of 0.81 [95% CI 0.71–0.91]). There was no significant effect on the odds of perinatal mortality but greater odds of neonatal unit admission (AOR after IOL at 39 weeks of 1.29 [95% CI 1.08–1.55]). In contrast, when compared with expectant management, elective repeat caesarean delivery was associated with lower perinatal mortality (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.23 [95% CI 0.07–0.75]) and, depending on gestation, the same or lower neonatal unit admission (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.98 [0.90–1.07] at 40 weeks of 1.08 [0.94–1.23] and at 41 weeks of 0.77 [0.60–1.00]).
Conclusions
A more liberal policy of IOL in women with previous caesarean delivery may reduce repeat caesarean delivery, but increases the risks of neonatal complications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060404
PMCID: PMC3615029  PMID: 23565242
11.  Pathways to a rising caesarean section rate: a population-based cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001725.
Objectives
To determine whether the obstetric pathways leading to caesarean section changed from one decade to another. We also aimed to explore how much of the increase in caesarean rate could be attributed to maternal and pregnancy factors including a shift towards delivery in private hospitals.
Design
Population-based record linkage cohort study.
Setting
New South Wales, Australia.
Participants
For annual rates, all women giving birth in NSW during 1994 to 2009 were included. To examine changes in obstetric pathways two cohorts were compared: all women with a first-birth during either 1994–1997 (82 988 women) or 2001–2004 (85 859 women) and who had a second (sequential) birth within 5 years of their first-birth.
Primary outcome measures
Caesarean section rates, by parity and onset of labour.
Results
For first-births, prelabour and intrapartum caesarean rates increased from 1994 to 2009, with intrapartum rates rising from 6.5% to 11.7%. This fed into repeat caesarean rates; from 2003, over 18% of all multiparous births were prelabour repeat caesareans. In the 1994–1997 cohort, 17.7% of women had a caesarean delivery for their first-birth. For their second birth, the vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) rate was 28%. In the 2001–2004 cohort, 26.1% of women had a caesarean delivery for their first-birth and the VBAC rate was 16%. Among women with a first-birth, maternal and pregnancy factors and increasing deliveries in private hospitals, only explained 24% of the rise in caesarean rates from 1994 to 2009.
Conclusions
Rising first-birth caesarean rates drove the overall increase. Maternal factors and changes in public/private care could explain only a quarter of the increase. Changes in the perceived risks of vaginal birth versus caesarean delivery may be influencing the pregnancy management decisions of clinicians and/or mothers.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001725
PMCID: PMC3437430  PMID: 22952166
OBSTETRICS; Maternal medicine; Statistics & Research Methods; SURGERY; Adult surgery
12.  Two decision aids for mode of delivery among women with previous caesarean section: randomised controlled trial  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;334(7607):1305.
Objectives To determine the effects of two computer based decision aids on decisional conflict and mode of delivery among pregnant women with a previous caesarean section.
Design Randomised trial, conducted from May 2004 to August 2006.
Setting Four maternity units in south west England, and Scotland.
Participants 742 pregnant women with one previous lower segment caesarean section and delivery expected at ≥37 weeks. Non-English speakers were excluded.
Interventions Usual care: standard care given by obstetric and midwifery staff. Information programme: women navigated through descriptions and probabilities of clinical outcomes for mother and baby associated with planned vaginal birth, elective caesarean section, and emergency caesarean section. Decision analysis: mode of delivery was recommended based on utility assessments performed by the woman combined with probabilities of clinical outcomes within a concealed decision tree. Both interventions were delivered via a laptop computer after brief instructions from a researcher.
Main outcome measures Total score on decisional conflict scale, and mode of delivery.
Results Women in the information programme (adjusted difference −6.2, 95% confidence interval −8.7 to −3.7) and the decision analysis (−4.0, −6.5 to −1.5) groups had reduced decisional conflict compared with women in the usual care group. The rate of vaginal birth was higher for women in the decision analysis group compared with the usual care group (37% v 30%, adjusted odds ratio 1.42, 0.94 to 2.14), but the rates were similar in the information programme and usual care groups.
Conclusions Decision aids can help women who have had a previous caesarean section to decide on mode of delivery in a subsequent pregnancy. The decision analysis approach might substantially affect national rates of caesarean section.
Trial Registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN84367722.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39217.671019.55
PMCID: PMC1895676  PMID: 17540908
13.  Induction of labour versus expectant management for nulliparous women over 35 years of age: a multi-centre prospective, randomised controlled trial 
Background
British women are increasingly delaying childbirth. The proportion giving birth over the age of 35 rose from 12% in 1996 to 20% in 2006. Women over this age are at a higher risk of perinatal death, and antepartum stillbirth accounts for 61% of all such deaths. Women over 40 years old have a similar stillbirth risk at 39 weeks as women who are between 25 and 29 years old have at 41 weeks.
Many obstetricians respond to this by suggesting labour induction at term to forestall some of the risk. In a national survey of obstetricians 37% already induce women aged 40–44 years. A substantial minority of parents support such a policy, but others do not on the grounds that it might increase the risk of Caesarean section. However trials of induction in other high-risk scenarios have not shown any increase in Caesarean sections, rather the reverse. If induction for women over 35 did not increase Caesareans, or even reduced them, it would plausibly improve perinatal outcome and be an acceptable intervention. We therefore plan to perform a trial to test the effect of such an induction policy on Caesarean section rates.
This trial is funded by the NHS Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme.
Design
The 35/39 trial is a multi-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial. It is being run in twenty UK centres and we aim to recruit 630 nulliparous women (315 per group) aged over 35 years of age, over two years. Women will be randomly allocated to one of two groups:
Induction of labour between 390/7 and 396/7 weeks gestation.
Expectant management i.e. awaiting spontaneous onset of labour unless a situation develops necessitating either induction of labour or Caesarean Section.
The primary purpose of this trial is to establish what effect a policy of induction of labour at 39 weeks for nulliparous women of advanced maternal age has on the rate of Caesarean section deliveries. The secondary aim is to act as a pilot study for a trial to answer the question, does induction of labour in this group of women improve perinatal outcomes? Randomisation will occur at 360/7 – 396/7 weeks gestation via a computerised randomisation programme at the Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham. There will be no blinding to treatment allocation.
Discussion
The 35/39 trial is powered to detect an effect of induction of labour on the risk of caesarean section, it is underpowered to determine whether it improves perinatal outcome. The current study will also act as a pilot for a larger study to address this question.
Trial registration
ISRCTN11517275
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-145
PMCID: PMC3560256  PMID: 23231750
Induction of labour; Advanced maternal age; Perinatal outcome; Caesarean delivery
14.  Unwanted caesarean sections among public and private patients in Brazil: prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7322):1155-1158.
Objective
To assess and compare the preferences of pregnant women in the public and private sector regarding delivery in Brazil.
Design
Face to face structured interviews with women who were interviewed early in pregnancy, about one month before the due date, and about one month post partum.
Setting
Four cities in Brazil.
Participants
1612 pregnant women: 1093 public patients and 519 private patients.
Main outcome measures
Rates of delivery by caesarean section in public and private institutions; women's preferences for delivery; timing of decision to perform caesarean section.
Results
1136 women completed all three interviews; 476 women were lost to follow up (376 public patients and 100 private patients). Despite large differences in the rates of caesarean section in the two sectors (222/717 (31%) among public patients and 302/419 (72%) among private patients) there were no significant differences in preferences between the two groups. In both antenatal interviews, 70-80% in both sectors said they would prefer to deliver vaginally. In a large proportion of cases (237/502) caesarean delivery was decided on before admission: 48/207 (23%) in women in the public sector and 189/295 (64%) in women in the private sector.
Conclusions
The large difference in the rates of caesarean sections in women in the public and private sectors is due to more unwanted caesarean sections among private patients rather than to a difference in preferences for delivery. High or rising rates of caesarean sections do not necessarily reflect demand for surgical delivery.
What is already known on this topicIn Brazil, one quarter of all women deliver in the private sectorThe rate of caesarean deliveries in the private sector is extremely high (70%) and more than twice that in the public sector, where rates have recently fallen due to a new policyPrevious studies in which women were interviewed after birth showed that a substantial proportion of private patients who have caesarean sections would have preferred normal deliveryWhat this study addsIn two antenatal interviews, preferences regarding type of delivery were nearly identical among public and private patients and strongly favoured vaginal birthsContrary to popular belief, middle and upper class women in Brazil do not want to deliver by caesarean section
PMCID: PMC59849  PMID: 11711406
15.  Evaluating trial of scar in patients with a history of caesarean section 
Aims:
To analyze the outcome of trial of scar in patients with previous caesarean section and to assess the fetal and maternal complications after trial of scar.
Patients and Methods:
The study was conducted at Military Hospital, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, with 375 pregnant patients who had a previous delivery by caesarean and who had regular antenatal checkup. Data were recorded on special pro-forms designed for the purpose.
Results:
The results from the 375 patients who had one previous lower segment caesarean section due to non-recurrent causes were analyzed and compared with national and international studies. Indications of previous caesarean section (non-recurrent causes) included malpresentations, fetal distress/cord prolapse, failure to progress, severe pregnancy-induced hypertension/eclampsia and twins with abnormal lie of the first twin. 0 218 patients reported spontaneous labor. Among these patients, 176 delivered vaginally and 42 patients had repeat caesarean sections. There were a total of 157 patients who experienced induction of labor. 97 patients were induced by cervical ripening with mechanical method, followed by artificial rupture of membranes and augmentation (if required) with syntocinon infusion. 60 patients were induced with prostaglandin E2 vaginal tablet.
Conclusion:
This study concludes that females with a prior caesarean are at increased risk for subsequent caesareans, regardless of mode of delivery. Eliminating vaginal-birth-after-caesarean will not eliminate the risk. Therefore, vaginal birth after caesarean should be encouraged in selected cases from obstetric units to reduce the risks of repeated caesarean sections. Failed vaginal-birth-after-caesarean can result in increased morbidity than that with elective caesarean section.
doi:10.4297/najms.2011.3201
PMCID: PMC3336913  PMID: 22540092
Caesarean section; vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC); trial of labor
16.  Consumer demand for caesarean sections in Brazil: informed decision making, patient choice, or social inequality? A population based birth cohort study linking ethnographic and epidemiological methods 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7343):942.
Objectives
To investigate why some women prefer caesarean sections and how decisions to medicalise birthing are influenced by patients, doctors, and the sociomedical environment.
Design
Population based birth cohort study, using ethnographic and epidemiological methods.
Setting
Epidemiological study: women living in the urban area of Pelotas, Brazil who gave birth in hospital during the study. Ethnographic study: subsample of 80 women selected at random from the birth cohort. Nineteen medical staff were interviewed.
Participants
5304 women who gave birth in any of the city's hospitals in 1993.
Main outcome measures
Birth by caesarean section or vaginal delivery.
Results
In both samples women from families with higher incomes and higher levels of education had caesarean sections more often than other women. Many lower to middle class women sought caesarean sections to avoid what they considered poor quality care and medical neglect, resulting from social prejudice. These women used medicalised prenatal and birthing health care to increase their chance of acquiring a caesarean section, particularly if they had social power in the home. Both social power and women's behaviour towards seeking medicalised health care remained significantly associated with type of birth after controlling for family income and maternal education.
Conclusions
Fear of substandard care is behind many poor women's preferences for a caesarean section. Variables pertaining to women's role in the process of redefining and negotiating medical risks were much stronger correlates of caesarean section rates than income or education. The unequal distribution of medical technology has altered concepts of good and normal birthing. Arguments supporting interventionist birthing for all on the basis of equal access to health care must be reviewed.
What is already known on this topicWomen's preferences for caesarean sections are understood to result from lack of knowledge and psychological aptitude to handle vaginal delivery and its consequencesEfforts to reduce the demand for caesarean sections have focused on providing consumers with correct information on the relative risks associated with vaginal and operative deliveriesWhat this study addsIn Brazil, many women prefer caesarean sections because they consider it good quality careRich women are more likely to have caesarean sections, supporting the notion that medical intervention represents superior carePoor women may implement a series of medicalised practices that justifies the need for greater medical intervention during birthInterventions for reducing caesarean sections by educating physicians and patients about risk factors associated with birthing procedures are not sufficient
PMCID: PMC102326  PMID: 11964338
17.  Maternal and neonatal factors associated with mode of delivery under a universal newborn hearing screening programme in Lagos, Nigeria 
Background
Emerging evidence from a recent pilot universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) programme suggests that the burden of obstetric complications associated with mode of delivery is not limited to maternal and perinatal mortality but may also include outcomes that undermine optimal early childhood development of the surviving newborns. However, the potential pathways for this association have not been reported particularly in the context of a resource-poor setting. This study therefore set out to establish the pattern of delivery and the associated neonatal outcomes under a UNHS programme.
Methods
A cross-sectional study in which all consenting mothers who delivered in an inner-city tertiary maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria from May 2005 to December 2007 were enrolled during the UNHS programme. Socio-demographic, obstetric and neonatal factors independently associated with vaginal, elective and emergency caesarean deliveries were determined using multinomial logistic regression analyses.
Results
Of the 4615 mothers enrolled, 2584 (56.0%) deliveries were vaginal, 1590 (34.4%) emergency caesarean and 441 (9.6%) elective caesarean section. Maternal age, parity, social class and all obstetric factors including lack of antenatal care, maternal HIV and multiple gestations were associated with increased risk of emergency caesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery. Only parity, lack of antenatal care and prolonged/obstructed labour were associated with increased risk of emergency compared with elective caesarean delivery. Infants delivered by vaginal method or by emergency caesarean section were more likely to be associated with the risk of sensorineural hearing loss but less likely to be associated with hyperbilirubinaemia compared with infants delivered by elective caesarean section. Emergency caesarean delivery was also associated with male gender, low five-minute Apgar scores and admission into special care baby unit compared with vaginal or elective caesarean delivery.
Conclusions
The vast majority of caesarean delivery in this population occur as emergencies and are associated with socio-demographic factors as well as several obstetric complications. Mode of delivery is also associated with the risk of sensorineural hearing loss and other adverse birth outcomes that lie on the causal pathways for potential developmental deficits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-41
PMCID: PMC2749799  PMID: 19732443
18.  Internet information on birth options after caesarean compared to the RCOG patient information leaflet; a web survey 
Background
Repeat caesarean sections make a substantial contribution to the overall caesarean section rate. It is important to understand what influences women to choose this option when the alternative of attempting vaginal birth after caesarean section is available. As many such women use the internet while seeking information on their options, the aim of this study was to assess content of websites on birth after previous caesarean and identify website characteristics which predict content.
Methods
An internet survey of the forty eight most frequently encountered websites retrieved from a search using various terms relating to birth after caesarean section via a popular search engine was performed. Websites were assessed for their content supportive of either vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS), using the RCOG patient information document, ‘Birth after previous caesarean; Information for You’ as a ‘gold standard’. A simple scoring method which categorised information into either supportive of VBAC (14 facts available) or ERCS (10 facts available) was employed and mean scores compared. Poisson regression analysis was used to assess the extent to which the score was predicted by website funding source, country of origin, author status and intended audience.
Results
A mean of 42.4% (SD 23.8) of facts supportive of VBAC and 44.8% (SD 25.0) of facts supportive of ERCS were featured across the 48 websites, with corresponding scores in the five most frequently encountered websites being 40.0% (SD 13.9) and 66.0% (SD 20.7). Extent of featured information supportive of ERCS was related to country of origin with the UK having higher scores on average than the US.
Conclusions
Women searching for internet information on birth after previous caesarean are exposed to incomplete information. Origin of website has a significant effect on website content.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-361
PMCID: PMC4288659  PMID: 25306551
Caesarean section; Vaginal birth; Internet information
19.  Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth for healthy women with low risk pregnancies: the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study 
Objective To compare perinatal outcomes, maternal outcomes, and interventions in labour by planned place of birth at the start of care in labour for women with low risk pregnancies.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting England: all NHS trusts providing intrapartum care at home, all freestanding midwifery units, all alongside midwifery units (midwife led units on a hospital site with an obstetric unit), and a stratified random sample of obstetric units.
Participants 64 538 eligible women with a singleton, term (≥37 weeks gestation), and “booked” pregnancy who gave birth between April 2008 and April 2010. Planned caesarean sections and caesarean sections before the onset of labour and unplanned home births were excluded.
Main outcome measure A composite primary outcome of perinatal mortality and intrapartum related neonatal morbidities (stillbirth after start of care in labour, early neonatal death, neonatal encephalopathy, meconium aspiration syndrome, brachial plexus injury, fractured humerus, or fractured clavicle) was used to compare outcomes by planned place of birth at the start of care in labour (at home, freestanding midwifery units, alongside midwifery units, and obstetric units).
Results There were 250 primary outcome events and an overall weighted incidence of 4.3 per 1000 births (95% CI 3.3 to 5.5). Overall, there were no significant differences in the adjusted odds of the primary outcome for any of the non-obstetric unit settings compared with obstetric units. For nulliparous women, the odds of the primary outcome were higher for planned home births (adjusted odds ratio 1.75, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.86) but not for either midwifery unit setting. For multiparous women, there were no significant differences in the incidence of the primary outcome by planned place of birth. Interventions during labour were substantially lower in all non-obstetric unit settings. Transfers from non-obstetric unit settings were more frequent for nulliparous women (36% to 45%) than for multiparous women (9% to 13%).
Conclusions The results support a policy of offering healthy women with low risk pregnancies a choice of birth setting. Women planning birth in a midwifery unit and multiparous women planning birth at home experience fewer interventions than those planning birth in an obstetric unit with no impact on perinatal outcomes. For nulliparous women, planned home births also have fewer interventions but have poorer perinatal outcomes.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d7400
PMCID: PMC3223531  PMID: 22117057
20.  Freestanding midwifery unit versus obstetric unit: a matched cohort study of outcomes in low-risk women 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000262.
Objective
To compare perinatal and maternal morbidity and birth interventions in low-risk women giving birth in two freestanding midwifery units (FMUs) and two obstetric units (OUs).
Design
A cohort study with a matched control group.
Setting
The region of North Jutland, Denmark.
Participants
839 low-risk women intending FMU birth and a matched control group of 839 low-risk women intending OU birth were included at the start of care in labour. OU women were individually chosen to match selected obstetric/socio-economic characteristics of FMU women. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Main outcome measures
Perinatal and maternal morbidity and interventions.
Results
No significant differences in perinatal morbidity were observed between groups (Apgar scores <7/5, <9/5 or <7/1, admittance to neonatal unit, asphyxia or readmission). Adverse outcomes were rare and occurred in both groups. FMU women were significantly less likely to experience an abnormal fetal heart rate (RR: 0.3, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.5), fetal–pelvic complications (0.2, 0.05 to 0.6), shoulder dystocia (0.3, 0.1 to 0.9), occipital–posterior presentation (0.5, 0.3 to 0.9) and postpartum haemorrhage >500 ml (0.4, 0.3 to 0.6) compared with OU women. Significant reductions were found for the FMU group's use of caesarean section (0.6, 0.3 to 0.9), instrumental delivery (0.4, 0.3 to 0.6), and oxytocin augmentation (0.5, 0.3 to 0.6) and epidural analgesia (0.4, 0.3 to 0.6). Transfer during or <2 h after birth occurred in 14.8% of all FMU births but more frequently in primiparas than in multiparas (36.7% vs 7.2%).
Conclusion
Comparing FMU and OU groups, there was no increase in perinatal morbidity, but there were significantly reduced incidences of maternal morbidity, birth interventions including caesarean section, and increased likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth. FMU care may be considered as an adequate alternative to OU care for low-risk women. Pregnant prospective mothers should be given an informed choice of place of birth, including information on transfer.
Article summary
Article focus
The safety of birth in free-standing midwifery units (FMUs) is strongly debated, as acute complications may arise in a spite of a careful risk assessment of women.
Prior studies suggest that FMU care for low-risk women is related to low perinatal and maternal morbidity, fewer interventions and a decreased use of medical pain relief compared with care from obstetric units (OUs) care, but some are limited by, for example, the inclusion of high-risk women, low number of participants, and inadequate control of bias and confounding.
The present study aims to compare perinatal and maternal morbidity, birth interventions, and pain relief in low-risk women giving birth in two freestanding midwifery-led units and two obstetric units (OUs) in Denmark.
Key messages
No difference in perinatal morbidity was found among infants of low-risk women who intended birth in an FMU compared with infants of low-risk women who intended birth in an OU. More studies on rare adverse outcomes are needed.
FMU care had important benefits such as reduced maternal morbidity, reduced use of birth interventions including caesarean sections and increased likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth compared with OU care. However, 37% of primiparas and 7% of multiparas transferred during or <2 h after birth.
Care in FMUs may be considered as an adequate alternative to OU care for low-risk women, and women should be given an informed choice of place of birth, including information on transfer.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study compares processes and outcomes from women who have been rigorously and prospectively judged to be at low obstetric risk in two well-defined and carefully established settings in the same region.
Data are complete, as all eligible women planning to give birth in the FMU settings were included, and full follow-up on all participants was obtained.
Although the study groups were matched, and adjustment for the matching factors revealed no residual confounding, the risk of confounding by unknown factors related to women's choice of care in labour persists.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000262
PMCID: PMC3191606  PMID: 22021892
21.  Factors predisposing to perinatal death related to uterine rupture during attempted vaginal birth after caesarean section: retrospective cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7462):375.
Objective To determine the factors associated with an increased risk of perinatal death related to uterine rupture during attempted vaginal birth after caesarean section.
Design Population based retrospective cohort study.
Setting Data from the linked Scottish Morbidity Record and Stillbirth and Infant Death Survey of births in Scotland, 1985-98.
Participants All women with one previous caesarean delivery who gave birth to a singleton infant at term by a means other than planned repeat caesarean section (n = 35 854).
Main outcome measures All intrapartum uterine rupture and uterine rupture resulting in perinatal death (that is, death of the fetus or neonate).
Results The overall proportion of vaginal births was 74.2% and of uterine rupture was 0.35%. The risk of intrapartum uterine rupture was higher among women who had not previously given birth vaginally (adjusted odds ratio 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.6 to 3.9, P < 0.001) and those whose labour was induced with prostaglandin (2.9, 2.0 to 4.3, P < 0.001). Both factors were also associated with an increased risk of perinatal death due to uterine rupture. Delivery in a hospital with < 3000 births a year did not increase the overall risk of uterine rupture (1.1, 0.8 to 1.5, P = 0.67). However, the risk of perinatal death due to uterine rupture was significantly higher in hospitals with < 3000 births a year (one per 1300 births) than in hospitals with ≥ 3000 births a year (one per 4700; 3.4, 1.0 to 14.3, P = 0.04).
Conclusion Women who have not previously given birth vaginally and those whose labour is induced with prostaglandin are at increased risk of uterine rupture when attempting vaginal birth after caesarean section. The risk of consequent death of the infant is higher in units with lower annual numbers of births.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38160.634352.55
PMCID: PMC509342  PMID: 15262772
22.  Study Protocol. ECSSIT – Elective Caesarean Section Syntocinon® Infusion Trial. A multi-centre randomised controlled trial of oxytocin (Syntocinon®) 5 IU bolus and placebo infusion versus oxytocin 5 IU bolus and 40 IU infusion for the control of blood loss at elective caesarean section 
Background
Caesarean section is one of the most commonly performed major operations in women throughout the world. Rates are escalating, with studies from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, China and the Republic of Ireland reporting rates between 20% and 25%. Operative morbidity includes haemorrhage, anaemia, blood transfusion and in severe cases, maternal death.
The value of routine oxytocics in the third stage of vaginal birth has been well established and it has been assumed that these benefits apply to caesarean delivery as well. A slow bolus dose of oxytocin is recommended following delivery of the baby at caesarean section. Some clinicians use an additional infusion of oxytocin for a further period following the procedure. Intravenous oxytocin has a very short half-life (4–10 minutes) therefore the potential advantage of an oxytocin infusion is that it maintains uterine contractility throughout the surgical procedure and immediate postpartum period, when most primary haemorrhages occur. The few trials to date addressing the optimal approach to preventing haemorrhage at caesarean section have been under-powered to evaluate clinically important outcomes. There has been no trial to date comparing the use of an intravenous slow bolus of oxytocin versus an oxytocin bolus and infusion.
Methods and design
A multi-centre randomised controlled trial is proposed. The study will take place in five large maternity units in Ireland with collaboration between academics and clinicians in the disciplines of obstetrics and anaesthetics. It will involve 2000 women undergoing elective caesarean section after 36 weeks gestation. The main outcome measure will be major haemorrhage (blood loss >1000 ml). A study involving 2000 women will have 80% power to detect a 36% relative change in the risk of major haemorrhage with two-sided 5% alpha.
Discussion
It is both important and timely that we evaluate the optimal approach to the management of the third stage at elective caesarean section. Safe operative delivery is now a priority and a reality for many pregnant women. Obstetricians, obstetric anaesthetists, midwives and pregnant women need high quality evidence on which to base management approaches. The overall aim is to reduce maternal haemorrhagic morbidity and its attendant risks at elective caesarean section.
Trial registration
number: ISRCTN17813715
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-36
PMCID: PMC2739153  PMID: 19703279
23.  Operative delivery and postnatal depression: a cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;330(7496):879.
Objectives To assess the association between elective caesarean section and postnatal depression compared with planned vaginal delivery and whether emergency caesarean section or assisted vaginal delivery is associated with postnatal depression compared with spontaneous vaginal delivery.
Design Prospective population based cohort study.
Setting ALSPAC (the Avon longitudinal study of parents and children).
Participants 14 663 women recruited antenatally with a due date between 1 April 1991 and 31 December 1992.
Main outcome measure Edinburgh postnatal depression scale score ≥ 13 at eight weeks postnatal on self completed questionnaire.
Results Albeit with wide confidence intervals, there was no evidence that elective caesarean section altered the odds of postnatal depression compared with planned vaginal delivery (adjusted odds ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 0.66 to 1.70, P = 0.80). Among planned vaginal deliveries there was similarly little evidence of a difference between women who have emergency caesarean section or assisted vaginal delivery and those who have spontaneous vaginal delivery (1.17, 0.77 to 1.79, P = 0.46, and 0.89, 0.68 to 1.18, P = 0.42, respectively).
Conclusions There is no reason for women at risk of postnatal depression to be managed differently with regard to mode of delivery. Elective caesarean section does not protect against postnatal depression. Women who plan vaginal delivery and require emergency caesarean section or assisted vaginal delivery can be reassured that there is no reason to believe that they are at increased risk of postnatal depression.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38376.603426.D3
PMCID: PMC556158  PMID: 15734748
24.  Recovery after caesarean birth: a qualitative study of women's accounts in Victoria, Australia 
Background
The caesarean section rate is increasing globally, especially in high income countries. The reasons for this continue to create wide debate. There is good epidemiological evidence on the maternal morbidity associated with caesarean section. Few studies have used women's personal accounts of their experiences of recovery after caesarean. The aim of this paper is to describe women's accounts of recovery after caesarean birth, from shortly after hospital discharge to between five months and seven years after surgery.
Method
Women who had at least one caesarean birth in a tertiary hospital in Victoria, Australia, participated in an interview study. Women were selected to ensure diversity in experiences (type of caesarean, recency), caesarean and vaginal birth, and maternal request caesarean section. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. A theoretical framework was developed (three Zones of clinical practice) and thematic analysis informed the findings.
Results
Thirty-two women were interviewed who between them had 68 births; seven women had experienced both caesarean and vaginal births. Three zones of clinical practice were identified in women's descriptions of the reasons for their first caesareans. Twelve women described how, at the time of their first caesarean section, the operation was performed for potentially life-saving reasons (Central Zone), 11 described situations of clinical uncertainty (Grey Zone), and nine stated they actively sought surgical intervention (Peripheral Zone).
Thirty of the 32 women described difficulties following the postoperative advice they received prior to hospital discharge and their physical recovery after caesarean was hindered by a range of health issues, including pain and reduced mobility, abdominal wound problems, infection, vaginal bleeding and urinary incontinence. These problems were experienced across the three zones of clinical practice, regardless of the reasons women gave for their caesarean.
Conclusion
The women in this study reported a range of unanticipated and unwanted negative physical health outcomes following caesarean birth. This qualitative study adds to the existing epidemiological evidence of significant maternal morbidity after caesarean section and underlines the need for caesarean section to be reserved for circumstances where the benefit is known to outweigh the harms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-47
PMCID: PMC2939528  PMID: 20718966
25.  Preterm birth 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1404.
Introduction
Preterm birth occurs in about 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries, but in recent years the incidence seems to have increased in some countries, particularly in the USA. We found little reliable evidence for incidence in resource-poor countries. The rate in northwestern Ethiopia has been reported to vary from 11% to 22%, depending on the age group of mothers studied, and is highest in teenage mothers.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of preventive interventions in women at high risk of preterm delivery? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome after preterm rupture of membranes? What are the effects of treatments to stop contractions in preterm labour? What are the effects of elective compared with selective caesarean delivery for women in preterm labour? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome in preterm delivery? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 58 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: amnioinfusion for preterm rupture of membranes, antenatal corticosteroids, antibiotic treatment, bed rest, beta-mimetics, calcium channel blockers, elective caesarean, enhanced antenatal care programmes, magnesium sulphate, oxytocin receptor antagonists (atosiban), progesterone, prophylactic cervical cerclage, prostaglandin inhibitors (e.g., indometacin), selective caesarean, and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) (plus corticosteroids).
Key Points
Around 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries occur before 37 weeks' gestation, leading to increased risks of neonatal and infant death, and of neurological disability in surviving infants.
Progesterone may reduce preterm birth in women with prior preterm birth and a short cervix, but are unlikely to be beneficial and may even be harmful in women with multiple gestations.
Enhanced antenatal care programmes and bed rest have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective or harmful. Prophylactic cervical cerclage may reduce preterm births in women with cervical changes but is unlikely to be effective — and may increase infection — in women with no cervical changes or with twin pregnancies. We don't know how effective it is in women with protruding membranes.
A single course of antenatal corticosteroids reduces respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular haemorrhage, and neonatal mortality compared with placebo in babies born before 37 weeks' gestation. Adding TRH to corticosteroids has not been shown to improve outcomes compared with corticosteroids alone, and increases the risk of adverse effects.
Antibiotics may prolong the pregnancy and reduce infection after premature rupture of the membranes, but are not beneficial when the membranes are intact.
It is unclear if amnioinfusion for preterm rupture of membranes reduces preterm birth or neonatal mortality, as we found few RCTs.
Calcium channel blockers may be effective at delaying labour compared with other tocolytics. Beta-mimetics and magnesium sulphate do not prevent premature birth, and may increase fetal and maternal adverse effects compared with placebo. Oxytocin receptor antagonists (such as atosiban) and prostaglandin inhibitors (such as indometacin) may prevent preterm delivery but we cannot be certain as we found few trials.Most tocolytic therapies don't prevent perinatal mortality or morbidity, although trials of these treatments are usually underpowered to detect clinically significant differences in these outcomes.
Elective caesarean section increases maternal morbidity compared with selective caesarean section, but rates of neonatal morbidity and mortality seem equivalent.
PMCID: PMC3217816  PMID: 21463540

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