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A rise in elective C-sections raises questions of its risks

ByNatalie Nosenko

Nov 7, 2018

Caesarean section, also known as a C-section, is a type of surgery which consists of delivering babies directly from the uterus through an incision. It has been a subject of increasing controversy in the past. Recent studies show that the use of C-sections has almost doubled globally since 2000 and that a significant number of these procedures are carried out without medical reasons. It is argued whether women should be able to choose the surgery or if it should remain within the medic’s authority.

With the development of medical and surgical sciences and the growing accessibility of C-sections, a difference between necessary and elective C-sections also developed. A necessary procedure is medically required for the safety of the mother or the baby and an elective one has no medical justification, but is done on the request of the woman. The study published in Lancet suggests that the rise of Caesarean sections is worrying as it should not be carried out if not medically justified. A C-section, just like a vaginal birth, has its consequences and complications including blood clots, stillbirth, abnormally located placenta or the scar of the womb opening up during subsequent pregnancies.

While the risks and consequences of Caesarean sections are not pleasant, those associated with natural birth are not any better. It appears that the most common reasons for women opting for elective Caesareans instead of vaginal birth are anxiety or worry from previous births that may have been difficult. Reasons include a fear of the pain of natural birth and possible vaginal tearing, or if the woman has been a victim of sexual assault. And while the possibility of scheduling the birth does not seem like a serious enough reason to request the procedure, for some women it still justifies their choice. It is convenient because they can choose the date of birth or adapt their maternity leave accordingly. In some cases, women request Caesarean sections a couple of weeks before the provisional date of birth because they are tired of pregnancy and feel they would rather intervene than keep suffering.

Despite the reported rise in Caesarean sections, it seems that information on the risks of natural birth is less accessible. Women are mostly told about the dangers and complications of the former compared to the advantages of the latter. The truth is that both options have equal pros and cons. There are risks to labour and every pregnancy. However, every gestation is different. We should have access to information about all options. It is the parent’s right to make an informed decision on how to deliver the baby the best way possible.


Image credit: Fotorech via Pixabay

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