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Contact: Susanne Grylka, email:


In Europe


A team of researchers, led by Professor of Nursing and Midwifery Cecily Begley at Trinity’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, has been awarded € 3 million in European Commission funding for a research project that addresses the widespread concern over rising Caesarean section rates throughout Europe. The OptiBIRTH team comprises 12 partner institutions from eight countries, and includes service users, midwives, obstetricians, neonatologists, epidemiologists, sociologists, psychologists, bioethicists, health economists and a 'high-tech' small industry.

The study examines the rising rates of Caesarean section throughout Europe, focusing in particular on routine Caesarean section following a previous Caesarean birth, despite calls for increased vaginal births after Caesareans. In comparison to Caesarean sections, vaginal births are associated with lower maternal mortality, less overall morbidity for mothers and babies, and are the preferred option for the majority of women. The rates for vaginal births in Ireland, Germany, and Italy are significantly lower (29-36%) than those in the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden (45-55%). The aim of the OptiBIRTH project was a 15% increase in vaginal birth rates in Ireland, Germany and Italy through a complex intervention designed to increase women-centered care and women's involvement in their care. The project uses a cluster randomised trial in each of the target countries, with 15 clusters of 120 women in each.

The partner institutions include Trinity College Dublin; Association for Improvements in Maternity Services, UK; University of Gothenburg, Sweden; Zuyd University, The Netherlands; University of Eastern Finland, Finland; University of Ulster, UK; Entando, UK; Queen's University of Belfast, UK; Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany; National University Ireland, Galway, Ireland; Universita Degli Studi Di Genova, Italy; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

Please note the first periodic report summary:

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In Germany

Five hospitals (Bürgerhospital Frankfurt, Henriettenstiftung Hannover, Hannover Medical School, Dritter Orden München and Helios Klinikum Wuppertal) in four federal states (Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia) were participating in the German part of the OptiBIRTH study, led by Prof. Dr. Mechthild Gross. A retrospective study of data taken from the perinatal database of the medical associations of the participating federal states was conducted, to ascertain the latest rates of caesarean sections, women with caesarean section in history, planned vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) vs. primary elective repeat caesarean (ERCS), secondary repeat caesarean sections and actually experienced VBACs. Furthermore a systematic review of the literature was undertaken. Focus group interviews with clinicians and women with their partners were conducted in the intervention sites. Based on these results the intervention was developed to increase the rate of VBACs. The pilot phase of the study started in January 2014 and between May 2014 and October 2015, recruitment for the main phase of the study took place. The last OptiBIRTH babies were born in December 2015 and data collection was completed in spring 2016. Data analysis currently takes place. Additionally, the control sites are planning the implementation of the Intervention.