Dr Sam Coulter Smith says any 'too posh to push' suggestion is a "dreadful thing to say about women"
A prominent medic has rejected the idea that women who have Cesarean section births are simply 'too posh to push'.
Dr Sam Coulter Smith was speaking as Ireland's rising C-section rate comes under the spotlight at a conference in Dublin today.
There has been a four-fold jump in the number of procedures since the early 1980s.
7% of babies were born by C-section in Ireland in 1984, and that figure rose to nearly 30% in 2014.
Research carried out by the ESRI, TCD and UCD found the primary reason for the increase is a result of medical advances that have made the operation much safer for mothers.
However, the ESRI also highlights that the research shows that the increasing average age of mothers - particularly first time mothers - means that associated clinical risks have to be carefully considered.
The percentage of births to women aged 35 or older has increased from 20% in 1999 to 33% in 2014, figures show.
Dr Coulter Smith, who is a former master of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, says there are a range of factors behind increase in C-section births, and the 'too posh' argument does not stand up.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Smith explained: "I think that's a dreadful thing to say about women [...] Women are far too sensible and pragmatic to think in that way.
"The important thing is that we understand what the Cesarean section rate is in each of our units, and we make sure it is as appropriate as it can be. But we also need to take cognisance of the fact that Cesarean sections are more expensive, and people stay in hospital for longer and there are risks associated with it.
"We do need a strategy to help reduce the rate where we can, and do Cesarean sections where it's appropriate," he added.