London: Pregnant women in Britain, where the government provides free health care, may soon be able to get a cesarean section on demand thanks to a rule change that critics describe as the health system caving into the "too posh to push" crowd.Currently, British women who can`t afford to pay private doctors for their baby`s delivery have been allowed to have planned C-sections only if there are health concerns for mother or baby. Emergency C-sections are done when the situation demands it.But new guidelines set to take effect later this month say pregnant women "with no identifiable reason" should be allowed a cesarean if they still want it following a discussion with mental health experts."It`s about time women who have no desire to view labor as a rite of passage into motherhood be able to choose how they want to have their baby," said Pauline Hull, who has had two children by cesarean because of medical reasons. "The important thing to me was meeting my baby, not the experience of labor."Hull runs the website, Elective Cesarean, from her home in Surrey, south of London. She said midwives tend to over-exaggerate the risks of C-sections and underestimate those of vaginal births.The new draft guidelines come from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. The agency`s guidelines are usually accepted by the government and determine what will be paid for by its health system."In general, a C-section is a safe operation, especially when performed as a planned procedure," the new guidance says.The agency says it routinely updates guidance every few years and denies there was any pressure to change its more restrictive C-section advice. But in recent years, advocates and some doctors have slammed the U.K. health system for not giving women a greater say in childbirth.The change comes at a price for Britain`s cash-strapped health system. NICE estimates C-sections cost about 800 pounds ($1,280) more than a vaginal birth, although that doesn`t include the price of treating possible long-term complications like urinary incontinence from vaginal births.
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