Up to 60 per cent of planned caesarean sections are being performed before “full term” without a medical reason.

For a long time, doctors considered 37 to 41 weeks of gestation “full term” but new evidence has prompted the definition to be tightened to between 39 and 41 weeks, shares The Age.

The report, to be released by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday, found up to 60 per cent of planned caesarean sections are occurring before 39 weeks and up to 22 per cent before 37 weeks for no good reason and against guidelines.

“Emerging evidence links early births to an increased risk of long-term developmental problems such as poorer school performance and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Jonathan Morris, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said.

“We need more reliable and accurate data across the whole country about this.”

The report, produced by Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, urges doctors to obtain fully informed patient consent by discussing the risks and the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce to ensure item descriptors align with the latest clinical evidence.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Vijay Roach said the report was a “guide not gospel” and a “cultural change” was required to see more planned c-sections occur at approximately 39 weeks’ gestation.

Share your comments below

  • I think C-sections should only be performed for the wellbeing and health of the baby, not to anyone else’s timeline.


  • My only concern about C-sections is that some are picking a time so they are not inconvenienced. They are not doing it for the benefit of the newborn.


  • Exactly – “We need more reliable and accurate data across the whole country about this.”


  • So many people are missing the point of this article.
    Which isnt that c sections should not be performed just that they may be being done earlier than necessary.
    Its a pity there isnt a link to the actual study which I would like to read.


  • If there’s no good reason women shouldn’t be having cesareans it’s not healthy and not natural.


  • I would never have a Caesar unless it was an emergency one.

    • A planned c is less dangerous than an emergency.
      If there is a medical reason it is a better choice.


  • I had 2 emergency caesars.


  • I have had both an emergency c section and a planned c section, both worked out okay.


  • A lot of people choose a c section because they want to avoid the pain of a natural labour.


  • I had an emergency c sec 6 months ago I still wish I didn’t have too have it but it saved mine and my bubs life but I wouldn’t get one unless I had too the healing time is crazy I am about to go for an ultrasound because mine still is having issues they shouldn’t perform them unless necessary its a major operation and many things can go wrong


  • if it is risks the baby then I am shocked that the medically trained doctors are even doing this.


  • The recovery tine is longer and the pain after the birth is stronger as they can’t give too strong a pain relief after an aenesthetic. It is more often used for multiple births when there is likely to be complications with a normal birth.


  • My first C-section was an emergency section at 30 weeks, my second section was planned for medical reasons at 38 weeks.


  • I had C-Sections with all three of my children, first one after a failed induction at 37 weeks (had High Blood Pressure so needed to be induced), second was supposed to be a VBAC however they thought I was going into labour at 30 weeks, turns out I had irritable uterus and so doctor scheduled a section at 38 weeks but I made it to 36 weeks before begging them to bring it forward a week to 37 weeks and last one was a planned elective section at 38 weeks and 2 days, went in on that date and ended up having to be knocked out under GA because my spinal failed.
    I can never recommend someone having a C-Section unless medically deemed necessary. Should be scheduled for 38 & a half weeks giving a week to bring it back to no earlier than 37 unless other medical complications deem it necessary.


  • If I was offered one and it wasn’t a medical emergency, I would decline. The longer bubs is in there is better. I don’t understand why people want to interfere with this purely to meet bubs early, or to fit in with their schedule. C sections are horrible!


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