Statistics from the NHS in England*

Since 1980, the NHS in England has collected statistics via the NHS Information Centre.  These figures apply to women giving birth in NHS hospitals; they do not include homebirths and births that take place in private hospitals.  The data can be found at

NHS figures show that around 75% of women will have a normal delivery (see NHS definitions).  Around 13.5% of women will have an instrumental delivery and Caesareans account for 11.5% of births. 

These figures begin to change as medical interventions take place, so it’s really important to challenge the medics when they first suggest any sort of intervention.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t follow their advice, but you should get them to clearly explain the medical reasons for mother and baby, so that you can make an informed decision. 

Following the medical induction of labour, spontaneous delivery drops to around 62.5%, instrumental deliveries increase slightly, by around 1%.  However, the biggest increase is in Caesarean deliveries, which more than double to over 24%.

Not only do your delivery options change following intervention, but the stats also show that the length of your stay in hospital is likely to increase.  Women with spontaneous vaginal deliveries spend on average 1 day in hospital after delivery, women with instrumental deliveries 1 or 2 days and for Caesarean deliveries it is 3 or 4 days.

NHS definitions:

Normal delivery
A normal delivery is one without induction, without the use of instruments, not by caesarean section and without general, spinal or epidural anaesthetic before or during delivery. 

Spontaneous Onset of Labour
The onset of regular contractions, whether preceded by spontaneous rupture of the membranes or not.

Spontaneous Delivery
Includes spontaneous cephalic vaginal delivery, normal delivery and other breech delivery.

Instrumental Delivery
Includes forceps delivery, vacuum delivery and breech extraction delivery.

Includes elective caesarean delivery and other caesarean delivery (includes emergency caesarean delivery)

NICE Guidelines State:
"...Your midwife or obstetrician should explain why you are being offered induction. They should also talk with you about the risks and benefits, explain the alternatives, and encourage you to look at sources of information...

Induced labours are often more painful than spontaneous labours.  You should be offered support and whatever pain relief is appropriate to you...  You should be encouraged to use your own coping strategies for pain relief as well. Labouring in water provides good pain relief.”

As recommended by NICE, we will discuss the benefits and risks associated with the induction of labour. We will look at the alternatives and learn hypnobirthing techniques to cope with an induction if it is unavoidable.

*The above is Copyright © 2010 Re-used with the permission of The Health and Social Care Information Centre. All rights reserved.

© Sandra Handford 2011 All Rights Reserved