Pregnancy

Elective C-Sections Don’t Benefit Babies — Or Mothers, So Why Get One?

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Many, many mothers nowadays rely on c-sections for pretty low-risk births and pregnancies. Some have taken to scheduling c-sections to procure certain birthdays or because they have been lead to believe that c-sections are safer. While c-sections have been touted as a better alternative to vaginal birth for baby, new research suggests that to be false. There is virtually no difference when it comes to the baby’s health, but mothers who have elective c-sections are at a higher risk for complications and death. The cultural push towards women having c-sections is heavily steeped in the notion that women don’t know how to give birth.

This research determines that between hospitals that relied heavily on cesarean sections and induced births versus those that did not, there was no difference in outcome for the infant. Dr. J. Christopher Glantz, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Rochester who conducted the study, said that these results indicate that the routine practice of the cesarean procedure does little to benefit babies.

While Dr. Glantz acknowledged that the study was “retrospective and could not control for all confounding factors,” he did have this to say on our country’s default behavior on c-sections:

“I’m not saying that no interventions should be the goal,” Dr. Glantz said. “But when you see the difference in rates of these interventions with no difference in outcome, it leads me to believe that we can get by with fewer of them.”

Fewer of them indeed, as now one in every three pregnant women delivers via c-section, despite mother mortality rates seeing a sharp increase. Excessive weight gain was also a factor, but according to The Los Angeles Times, “caesarean-section births [are] a major contributor to the disturbing trend” of mother mortality.

When learning that routine c-sections for low-risk pregnancies do little to benefit mom or baby, I instantly thought of the documentary The Business of Being Born — an in depth look into the history and and current landscape of women’s birthing experiences. Like the documentary, this evidence demonstrates that women’s health and well-being are not being prioritized by mainstream medicine in the event of a birth. While c-sections do save the lives of many women and otherwise helpless infants, a cultural insistence on the absolute need of a cesarean, regardless of unique conditions, has proved to be dangerous  to mothers.

According to The Business of Being Born, modern medicine has primarily been behind this push to disengage women from their births, specifically in telling them that they don’t know how to birth without major abdominal surgery.  Many of these women walk away from their birth having been disappointed, or feeling that they had no say in their birth, and have often felt silenced because their baby was born healthy and without complications. The Business of Being Born sheds much light on how hospitals have a quota just like every other business, and keeping birth to a clock that can be scheduled and rescheduled ultimately has financial gains, in that they can get more women in and out of beds with babies.

Thes recent studies would now suggest that financial gains are seeing a precedence over women’s lives.

 

5 Comments

  1. Karen Stallworth

    August 9, 2011 at 7:55 am

    My former OB-GYN insisted that my baby be delivered by C-section. I’m convinced now it was because he didn’t want to be bothered with a vaginal birth with me. He didn’t explain to me before hand that I would deliver by C-section telling my dad he had to deliver by C-section because the baby was having bowel movements in-utero. I’ve never heard of that reason. I was 32 at the time, but I was very much treated like a child in that process. Now I understand a first delivery with a C-section usually sets you up to subsequent deliveries having to be C-section too. Can anyone comment on what I experienced as unusual or normal?

  2. anl

    August 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    karen, having a c section doesnt mean that other pregnancies will have to be c sections too. next time you are pregnant, go with a certified nurse midwife. i firmly believe that the world of obs is so unsupportive of vaginal births, is because most obs are men and will never know what its like to give birth vaginally. nurse midwives are pro woman and support a womans natural ability to give birth with out all the medicalization. im pregnant with my second child and i was forced to have an un-necessary c section because my baby was “too big”. when i went to my midwife she told me that my previous c section was not necessary and i have a wide, accomodating pelvis that would have allowed a 10 lb baby to pass through. do research.

  3. Margarett the Oklahoma Midwife

    September 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Unfortunately Karen, your birth story is pretty typical these days, 1 in 3 babies are born by surgical means. In 1970 6% were surgical, today, up to 60%-75% depending upon the facility… Birth is broken in America!! And women and infants are dying and suffering lifelong health problems that were unnecessary!! It is safer to give birth in Cuba than America! Don’t believe me, DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!! GET THE FACTS!!! Most likely everything you are being told by your OB is a lie…..

    http://www.lamaze.org/OnlineCommunity/LamazeVideoLibrary/LamazeVideoPlayer/TabId/808/VideoId/4/Birth-By-The-Numbers.aspx

    http://birthaction.org/2011/08/28/capitalizing-on-loss-and-risk/#.Tl6bhKt5pVU.facebook

  4. Doula in CA

    July 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Hey wait a second! If Karen’s baby was passing meconuim in utero, then very possibly the baby was in distress and the csection was medically indicated! Let’s not demonize a medically indicted csection! Karen, you could talk to your next care provider about having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

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