One in two births at private hospitals are conducted using the caesarian section method as are 40 percent of all births in Greece, according to figures released yesterday, which are the highest in Europe. The Union of Midwives and Gynecologists attributed the high rate of caesarians to various reasons, including «defensive medicine» - in which doctors conduct caesarians to avoid the possibility of legal action if a natural birth was to go wrong - and the reluctance of many women to undergo the pain of natural childbirth. But women seeking the «easy route» should be advised by their doctors before they go ahead, Professor Vassilis Tarlatzis, of Thessaloniki's Aristotle University, told Kathimerini. «Doctors are obliged to tell prospective mothers that a caesarian section is a surgical operation that may involve complications,» Tarlatzis said. Another factor leading to the high incidence of caesarian births is that Greek women are relatively old when they choose to have children - the average age is 33 - and births can be more complicated.