C Section Risk:
Under-publicized Risks Of Caesarean Sections
Dr. Ben Kim
ten years ago, I devoted several months of my evening hours researching the ins
and outs of C-section deliveries. I was stunned to discover that in some cases,
C-section deliveries are encouraged because they are more profitable and convenient
for doctors to perform, even though C-sections are clearly more dangerous than
natural vaginal deliveries that take place in a supportive environment.
that time, I vowed to share what I had learned about the risks of C-sections and
the possible motivations behind promoting them with as many expectant parents
as possible. Although I have stuck to this vow while in private practice for the
past ten years, it has been discouraging to see the rate of C-section deliveries
continuously climb over the years.
to recently released data, in Canada, the number of C-section births rose from
5.2 percent in 1969 to 25.6 per cent of the annual total in 2003. That's
a quarter of all deliveries in Canada being carried out by major surgery with
major risks in 2003. The worst part of this statistic is that some patients
are led to believe that C-section deliveries carry few risks and actually offer
many advantages to healthy mothers.
be fair, there is some evidence in the medical literature that indicates that
a planned C-section delivery may provide the following benefits:
- Reduced risk of
the mother experiencing pelvic disorders, the most common of which are urinary
incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse
risk of having an unexplained stillbirth or having the baby experience health
problems related to:
presentation that doesn't respond positively to manual manipulation
with heart rate
and possible infection of the membranes that surround the fetus (chorioamnionitis)
these potential benefits are, in my opinion, far outweighed by the potential risks
of unnecessary C-section deliveries.
major new study published in this month's issue of the Canadian Medical Association
Journal warns that C-section deliveries may be three time more dangerous
for healthy mothers than natural vaginal deliveries. The study indicates that
the most common health risks for women who undergo a C-section delivery are:
- Myocardial infarction
of dangerous blood clots
studies have shown that planned caesarean deliveries are associated with an increased
risk of death or health complications in the newborn. Two recent studies published
in Obstetrics & Gynecology (2006) and the American Journal of
Obstetrics and Gynecology (2005) found that full-term babies whose mothers
chose to have a C-section before experiencing labour were at higher risk for the
intensive care admission
establishment of breastfeeding
increasing numbers of women choosing C-sections without a clear medical need,
these under-publicized risks of C-section deliveries need - well, more publicity.
Robert Liston, a lead author of the most recent study cited above, has said, "Look,
caesarean section is not just like falling off a log. There are health issues
that result from the operation, significantly more so than a planned vaginal delivery."
mothers need to know that there are serious risks to choosing to have a C-section.
Ideally, such a choice should not be made because of a busy schedule, vanity-related
issues like fear of weight gain, or the desire to avoid pain associated with childbirth.
support and more information on this topic, I give my highest recommendation to
the following books:
May's Guide to Childbirth - Excellent for those seeking support for a natural
Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing
- Provides useful information on a variety of women's health issues.
Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Sources of True Healing
- One of the best books I have ever read in this arena.
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