Recent research published in this week's Australian Medical Journal (AMA) has found that first-time mothers who give birth by caesarean face a greater risk of complications if they choose to deliver naturally in subsequent pregnancies.
The study has found women who have a caesarean section are more vulnerable to scarring that can cause uterine ruptures during birth, post-partum bleeding, infection and hysterectomies than women who go through natural labour for their first birth.
But women who delivered their first and subsequent children by caesarean were at lower risk of hemorrhage and intensive care admissions than those who went through vaginal birth.
According to the authors, the rate of caesareans has doubled in the past 20 years. Provisional Victorian Government data indicates that 30 % of all births were caesareans last year, compared with 15 % in 1985.
In the report, 25,596 women had a primary caesarean; 10,743 of them had a labour in their second birth. Although rupture of the uterus during labour was rare, affecting only 20 women during the period, it was still 12 times as likely among those with a previous caesarean.
Infections after birth, suffered by 210 women, were six times as common among the caesarean group, while these mothers were three times as likely to be taken to intensive care. Their infants were 60 % more likely to be admitted to intensive care and 20 per cent more likely to suffer a bacterial infection or be premature.
While the number of women choosing to deliver by caesarean section is constantly increasing, the study by the NSW Health Department warns that women should think twice, and carefully consider the risks before opting for a caesarean.