Women 'should be encouraged to have natural births'

There is a "real need" to encourage more women to opt for natural births rather than caesareans, it has been claimed.

According to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in the UK, while caesareans are a safe procedure and most women who have them go on to have no adverse effects, they are a serious operation which has potential implications for both mother and baby.

The body's comments follow a study published in the Public Library of Science which found that babies born at 39 weeks - the stage at which most elective caesarean deliveries take place - had an increased risk of special educational needs compared to babies who were delivered at 40 weeks.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said: "This new research highlights another reason for women and professionals to think carefully about the necessity for each elective caesarean section."

She added that midwives need to have enough time with expectant mothers to discuss all the possible birth options with them and offer help and advice about which one is best for them.