Objectives Publication of NICE caesarean section guideline re-established debate about whether obstetricians fear childbirth. This study aimed: To determine personal choices of practising obstetricians on mode of delivery for themselves or their partners in various clinical scenarios; To determine actual rates of modes of deliveries amongst obstetricians and gynaecologists in South West (SW) England.
Methods A piloted online survey link was sent to all obstetricians and gynaecologists (consultants and trainees) in SW England using a robust email database. Obstetricians mode of delivery data between 2006–2011 was compared to regional/national population data, using Hospital Episode Statistics (HES).
Results Response rate: 165/242 (68%). 89.9% of SW obstetricians stated they would plan vaginal delivery for themselves/their partners; 10.1% would opt for caesarean section in an uncomplicated primiparous pregnancy.
94/165 (60%) respondents had their own children (201 children). Mode of delivery for first born child; normal vaginal 48%, caesarean section 26.5% (elective 8.5%, emergency 18%), instrumental 24.5% and vaginal breech 1%. Elective caesarean was performed in 8.5%. Only one chose an elective caesarean for maternal request. SW obstetricians statistically have the same overall actual modes of birth (Kruksal-Wallis p = 0.932).
Conclusions 10% report they would request caesarean section for themselves/their partner, which is the lowest rate reported within UK studies. Only 1% had a caesarean solely for maternal choice. SW Obstetricians would choose non interventional delivery if possible. They currently have modes of delivery that are not statistically different from the general population. These results challenge long held misconceptions about birth choices made by obstetricians.