Natalie Coates with three-month-old Mia. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Natalie Coates with three-month-old Mia. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Birth of a new era: more caesars, fewer breastfeeders

Fewer mothers are breastfeeding when they leave hospital after the birth of a child and more are choosing to have elective Caesareans.

The NSW Mothers And Babies 2018 Report, released by NSW Health, has revealed the number of mothers who are breastfeeding after being discharged dropped by 7.5 per cent between 2014 and 2018.

And the number of women who are booking in to have a caesarean instead of going into labour naturally has jumped by 13 per cent to account for more than 22 per cent of all births.

 

Natalie Coates with three-month-old Mia. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Natalie Coates with three-month-old Mia. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


The figure for elective Caesareans was even higher in northern Sydney, where the procedure accounted for more than 26 per cent of all births.

During the same period, the number of women who went into labour spontaneously dropped by 15 per cent to 31.3 per cent of all births, showing that more women were relying on an induction to give birth.

Dr Megan Cooper, from the Australian College Of Midwives, said the drop in the number of mothers breastfeeding was linked to the increase in Caesareans.

"There is a link between women who have Caesareans and then find breastfeeding challenging," Dr Cooper said.

"The synthetic intervention plays around with the hormones that are needed to breastfeed and produce milk."

Mater Hospital head of obstetrics Dr Adrian Kwok said there were several factors contributing to the increase in elective Caesareans.

 

Fewer women are choosing to breastfeed.
Fewer women are choosing to breastfeed.

 

He said the older a woman was when she had a baby, and the heavier she was, could lead to a high risk pregnancy and labours which required greater intervention.

The mean maternal age is now 30.9 years and the proportion of women giving birth at the age of 35 or older is 17.2 per cent, up from 15.5 per cent four years ago.

A quarter of all pregnant women in 2018 were classified as being overweight and a further 14.6 per cent were obese, according to the report.

Cremorne mum Natalie Coates gave birth to baby Mia at Royal North Shore Hospital via an emergency caesarean after labouring for 36 hours.

She said she was not prepared for the challenges of breastfeeding.

"It was really hard to breastfeed," she said.

"No one tells you beforehand how hard it's going to be though."



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