Vaginal Deliveries–Is There a Need for Documented Consent?(Medicine AND THE LAW)
A pregnant woman nearing delivery, with an uncomplicated pregnancy and no immediate indication for caesarean section (CS), can either deliver vaginally or by CS. Historically CS has been viewed as more dangerous than vaginal delivery. However, CSs are far safer today and the complications of unmonitored labour are increasing, especially in the public sector. Delivery should be discussed during the antenatal period. The decision to have a CS is usually followed by signing an authorisation form–incorrectly referred to as the consent form. Women who decide to deliver vaginally are not asked to sign a similar form, possibly because consent is procedure specific and a vaginal delivery is not seen as a procedure. However, natural birth, a normal physiological process, and modern medical vaginal childbirth are not synonymous and each intervention in the latter requires consent, albeit often tacit.