A doctor has been widely criticised for sharing a theory that "fat vaginas" are behind the rise in caesarean sections.

Dr Marco Gaudoin made the startling claim during an interview with BCC Radio Scotland, saying that obesity contributed to "increased fat tissue in the birth canal".

The experienced fertility specialist, who heads a fertility clinic in Glasgow, was discussing the rise in caesarean sections in the UK when he made the controversial comments.

Statistics released earlier this year by the Ministry of Health show that the rate of babies delivered by caeasarean section in New Zealand increased from 23.6 per cent of total births in 2008 to 27.9 per cent in 2017.

Advertisement

Asked why older and heavier mums have higher levels of intervention, Gaudoin said: "Increasing age is associated with an increased risk of during pregnancy.

"Every baby is precious, but if you are 41 or 40 years old, it's likely to be your only baby, so the obstetrician is more likely to say 'we'll bail out early'.

"With obesity you've got increased fat tissue in the birth canal, which makes the birth canal that much narrower, which makes it harder for the baby to squeeze through the birth canal. So you are more likely to end up with what is called an 'obstructed labour'."

 Dr Marco Gaudoin said obesity contributed to
Dr Marco Gaudoin said obesity contributed to "increased fat tissue in the birth canal".

Gaudoin has been widely criticised for the suggestion, with the founder of the Positive Birth Movement saying that there was "zero evidence" for the claims.

Milli Hill told Grazia: "In reality there is absolutely zero evidence that I am aware of to support the notion that women's vaginas can be 'fat', or that, even if they are, that this can obstruct the progress of a baby.

"Instead it seems to be an example of the woman-blaming culture that can unfortunately be found in the medical profession.

"Rather than asking, what could we be doing differently to facilitate easier births for women, too often the explanation given for difficult or traumatic births is left at the door of women. We are too old, we are too fat and our expectations are too high."

Former midwife Teri Gavin-Jones told the Daily Mail that obstructed labours are "nowhere near as simple" as being due to a "fat vagina".

Advertisement

"Having seen/supported/felt [with consent] so many vaginas it is not a problem of fat vaginas. It is a problem of lack of understanding of birth physiology," she said.

Consultant obstetrician Dr Virginia Beckett, spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK told the Sun: "Some women may also experience obstructed labour during birth – this is absolutely not due to the size of a woman's vagina.

"It occurs because of the position of the baby in the birth canal or a mismatch in the size of the birth canal and the size of the baby.

"Women who are overweight are more likely to have overweight babies, often because of pregnancy-related diabetes.

"Larger babies may not rotate as easily in the birth canal, so that assistance is required to safely deliver the baby."

"We are keen to refute any suggestion which makes women concerned about the appearance of their vagina.

"Vaginas and vulvas vary widely in appearance but their function remains the same, regardless of a woman's weight."