I posted this article on Facebook, but thought I’d put it here too. This was sent to me by Parenting Weekly. It’s an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, talking about how C-Section rates are higher in CA at a for-profit hospital than a nonprofit one, even when comparing hospitals who serve the same demographic in the same town.
You can read it and decide if you want to disregard it or not. When I posted this on Facebook, people began encouraging me to watch “The Business of Being Born” (available for instant viewing if you have Netflix), a documentary made by Ricki Lake (remember her?) when she started looking into why people choose midwives over hospitals. She was so convinced by her research that she decided to have her second child at home.
I am not saying that there aren’t valid reasons to have a C-Section. Doctors use this procedure all the time to save lives, and I’m grateful that modern medicine has found a way to turn otherwise deadly birth situations into a safe experience. I have friends who would not be here, were it not for this practice. So please don’t misunderstand me.
But our culture doesn’t seem to realize that birth is natural and normal, not a sickness. It isn’t ALWAYS an emergency. Why, then, is the national C-Section rate at 31.8%, vs. ? Did 1 in 3 women die in childbirth before doctors figured out how to perform this surgery? Was childbirth really more deadly than war? Plagues?
This also doesn’t explain why there is only an 11.1% transfer rate to the hospital of mothers who begin their care at my birth center (10% of which are first time moms who are not progressing). Less than 5% of these turn into C-Sections.
Are people just not aware of the possible complications of a C-Section?
Cesarean section is a major surgical procedure that increases the likelihood of many types of harm for mothers and babies in comparison with vaginal birth. Short-term harms for mothers include increased risk of infection, surgical injury, blood clots, emergency hysterectomy, intense and longer-lasting pain, going back into the hospital and poor overall functioning. Babies born by cesarean section are more likely to have surgical cuts, breathing problems, difficulty breastfeeding, and asthma in childhood and beyond. Perhaps due to the common surgical side effect of “adhesion” formation, cesarean mothers are more likely to have ongoing pelvic pain, to experience bowel blockage, to be injured during future surgery, and to have future infertility. Of special concern after cesarean are various serious conditions for mothers and babies that are more likely in future pregnancies, including ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, placenta accreta, placental abruption, and uterine rupture (Childbirth Connection 2006).
One of my good friends is no longer able to have children because her first C-Section was so botched that her body went into labor 9 weeks early with her second baby. When they went in to remove him, they said that her uterus was practically transparent near the first incision. Her body had gone into labor early in order to save her life. She and her husband had always dreamt of a big family– now, they will only have 2.
3 of Michael’s high school students just had C-Sections. Their doctors met with them ahead of time and explained that since they were so young, their hips couldn’t possibly accommodate a normal birth, so they should go ahead and schedule a C-Section ahead of time.
The woman I used to babysit for was livid about her first birth– the doctor at Baylor had also told her that her hips were too small to give birth to what they estimated to be a nine pound baby growing within her. They convinced her that a C-Section was the only way to be safe. After the surgery, they discovered that the baby was only 6 pounds. Simple mistake on their part (a charitable read), but now surgery has been her only option for her other two (despite the fact that a V-BAC– vaginal birth after cesarean– succeeds 9 out of 10 times, there is only one doctor in the entire DFW area who is willing to risk it).
A woman listed in this article talks about how her first c-section has now rendered her infertile. She, too, was told she was having a baby too big to fit through her cervix. A baby who turned out to be 5 pounds 12 oz.
What is going on, America? I’m not trying to artificially find a whipping boy for this one– big bad doctors, corporations, what have you. But am I wrong to see this as a problem?
Birthcenter vs. Hospital