Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 265, Issue 4, pp 169–174 | Cite as

Elective caesarean section versus vaginal delivery

Whither the end of traditional obstetrics?
  • P. Husslein
Original Article


No other topic has dominated the obstetrical discussion to the same extent as caesarean section. Nor has any other aspect of obstetrics been subject to a comparable degree of professional controversy,quite recently the topic has been discussed in this journal by Ludwig and Loeffler [7]. For some caesarean section remains a major surgical procedure with a corresponding level of risk, which must only be employed in the presence of specific complications and in conjunction with a clearly defined set of indications; others consider caesarean section quite simply to be the most efficient and straightforward means to deliver as well as the one attended by the least amount of risk. Opinion among those most immediately affected is likewise divided: For many women the experience of vaginal birth is among the most fulfilling of their entire life – comparable only to sexuality-related moments of ecstasy – other women come to regard birth as the worst thing that ever happened to them – an experience attended by pain, fear, loneliness, perhaps even long lasting negative consequences. There can be no doubt that, this question also affects the foundations of patriarchal thinking, still so firmly embedded in peoples’ minds: Are doctors to determine what exactly takes place in the delivery room and in the operating theatre, or will the patient – in obstetrics, the parturient – be enabled to assert her right to self-determination also in the medical context; especially in light of the fact that said right can currently be exercised in an almost unlimited fashion throughout the rest of one’s adult life? It is against the wider background of this ongoing controversy that the ensuing article will seek to defuse the emotional charge characterising some of the commonly employed arguments and instead revert to a more rational and factually based approach to this question.

Keywords Elective caesarean section Caesarean section on request Decision making in obstetrics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Husslein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vienna University, Währinger Gürtel 18–20, A-1090 Wien, AustriaAT

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