Friday, May 29, 2009

Cesarean section risks

As stated in the Vancouver Sun this week;

While there are clearly cases when C-sections are necessary to protect the health of mother and baby, C-sections are associated with five times more postpartum cardiac arrests, five times more wound infections and twice as many anesthetic complications than in vaginal births. C-sections cost the health-care system 65 per cent more, partly because of longer hospital stays.

This is from an article regarding the mismanagement of a VBAC at BC Women's 7 years ago which resulted in injury to the baby. The article isn't actually about the risks of cesareans, but it mentions them so I quoted it here. If you are interested you can read the entire article here, but I wanted to highlight that elective cesareans carry risks our culture often ignores, mainly, in my opinion, because our medical community ignores it and has an inappropriately strong bias towards cesarean section surgeries.

Cesareans are necessary and save lives in 5-15% of cases. So why is our cesarean rate at 30% in BC? It's not 'just another way to have a baby.' It is not inherently less risky simply because we can control it.

I believe the driving force behind changing our birth statistics MUST BE CLIENT DRIVEN. Traditionally, obstetrics does not undergo a major change unless there is a client demand for it. In the seventies women achieved a major shift in obstetrical practices by demanding their partners be present in deliveries, there to be a focus away from the Anesthetic-episiotomy-and-forceps style of delivery that had been the overwhelming majority since the 1920s, and a focus more upon natural, unmedicated childbirth.
If we know, we can make informed choices and advocate for shifts in obstetrical attitude away from a bias towards cesareans. That is why I talk about it all the time, so that together we can advocate for change. I just think maternal health to be too important an issue for our culture to be happy with less than ideal standards of care! We CAN push our medical community to strive for a healthier cesarean rate, I know we can.


Janet said...

I WISH, WISH, WISH that I had been able to have a baby the natural way. It's a longing I will never be able to fulfill. I think you're right, they do WAY too many c-sections nowadays.

Jen said...

Yes. Right on. At times we are too quick to place all the blame on the medical community. I agree, there must be demand from women and families in order for things to change. Clearly one integral part in this is EDUCATION of women and families regarding the risks of C-Sections - information they are likely not getting otherwise.

Rachel Clear said...

Clap clap clap, Melissa!

Loved this post.