Women giving birth at hospitals in the UK's most exclusive postcodes are almost twice as likely to have C-sections, new figures have revealed.
Some 37 per cent of all babies born at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital last year were delivered via Caesarean section compared to just 19.3 per cent at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, data shows.
C-sections cost the NHS around £1,000 more than vaginal deliveries due to the extra staff, equipment and medication that is required.
The data comes after figures in November revealed more Caesareans happened in the UK last year than since records began in the 1980s.
Older mothers have repeatedly been blamed for driving a surge in numbers because their pregnancies are often more complex. Many of these women are advised to have planned C-sections to avoid life-threatening complications during the delivery.iPhone transfer software
An increasing number of women, like Call The Midwife star Helen George, are also opting for the procedure because they wish to minimise the pain they endure during childbirth.
However, although usually safe, C-sections can cause blood clots, excessive bleeding and womb infections.
Commenting on the latest data, which has been released by NHS Digital, Professor Eugene Declercq, an expert in maternal and child health at Boston University, told MailOnline: 'Many woman want to avoid the pain of childbirth but studies show women face more difficulties after C-sections. Around 18 per cent of women still feel pain at the site six months later.'
Women giving birth at hospitals in the UK's most exclusive postcodes are almost twice as likely to have C-sections. Although usually safe, they can cause blood clots (stock)
Speaking about the birth of her daughter Wren last September, Call The Midwife actress Helene George said: 'I'm not against natural births.
'I'm pro whatever you feel is right for you.
'Some people may not understand why I elected to have a C-section, but it was right for me at the time.
'Its not because 'I'm too posh to push' – it's about what I think my body is capable of.
'I'm not good with pain - I faint when I stub my toe.'
Nearly 30% of births are via C-sections
Surgeons at the Chelsea and Westminster carry out around 45 C-sections a week compared to just nine per week at the West Suffolk.
Last year, 27.8 per cent of all births in England's NHS hospitals were by C-section.
Health experts claim the rate should be closer to 15 per cent, which could save the NHS around £80 million.