Childbirth Death Rate on the Rise

The national C-section rate is 29%?!  TWENTY-NINE PERCENT?!

          Apparently, even doctors are alarmed by this dramatic increase; along with the increase in C-sections, the number of women who died due to complications caused by bearing a child also rose.  The only thing that makes me angry is that most of the articles seem to point to the mothers, stating that elective C-sections are the biggest culprit.  Now, I have been to quite a few prenatal visits myself, and have spoken with many clients following visits.  When C-sections are brought up, 9 times out of 10, the risks are briefly discussed and down played.  Is the risk small?  Sure.  Is it higher than with the typical low-risk pregnancy and trial of vaginal delivery?  YES.  Why is an elective C-section such a popular option?

          I am all for the rights of the individual, but just walking in and saying, "You know, I think I’d like to have this baby today," seems a bit absurd.  There are few cases I have heard argued for an elective C-section that I felt were valid reasons, but just the whole, "I’m afraid of the pain" (ahem, Miss Spears) or "I can’t stand waiting," is not a valid reason for me.  You’re afraid of the pain, yet you’re okay with having a major abdominal surgery?  You can’t stand waiting?  Your recovery period is going to be longer with a C-section, so I hope you can stand waiting to get back to your normal activity level!

          The Midwifery Center at DePaul has an 8% C-section rate.  EIGHT PERCENT.  Do you think they would still be practicing if their maternal death rate was rising?  I doubt it.  Finland has an 11% C-section rate.  Less than half of ours!  A C-section birth costs almost twice as much as a vaginal delivery.  How much money would be saved on health care annually if the percentage of births by cesarean were reduced?   

          A cesarean can be a life-saving path for a child, or a mother.  It is a wonderful option for some breech presentations, twins that are not presenting properly, transverse babies, and in cases of true CPD which has been estimated to be "true" in 1 in 250 births.  "Once a C-section always a C-section," is not necessarily the case, either.  Many hospitals are also averse to VBAC’s, so finding a practice that will help you make the right choice based on your individual body and history is crucial if you want to avoid a repeat cesarean.

              For me, the bottom line is that we have a very unfriendly birthing system.  When you confine a woman to her bed, she is fighting gravity and her natural instincts.  Leaving her alone, usually with only one partner who may or may not have any experience with childbirth, strapped to monitors is no way to give birth.  Making information, support, and actual care more readily available, I believe, would dramatically improve a woman’s perception of herself, her body’s abilities, and her memories of the birth of her child.  Birth can be so fulfilling and empowering if given the chance!

          So, I am getting off my soap box now because by now, we should all know how I feel about birth – that a woman should always have an educated choice in the path her birth takes!

C-Section Facts