Why has the c-section rate increased?

What to expect for the recovery of c-section

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), C-section use continues to rise globally, now accounting for more than 1 in 5 (21%) of all childbirths. Many assume that the leading factors in this trend are: (1) more and more women are asking for C-sections, and (2) the number of women who genuinely need a cesarean is increasing. However, researchers have found that C-section rates have gone up for all groups of birthing women, regardless of age, the number of babies they are having, the extent of health problems, their race/ethnicity, or other characteristics. This means unprecedented pressure from health professionals.

It is true that some women prefer to deliver by surgery because it gives them more control in deciding when their baby is born and reduces some anxiety about the labor. BUT, should you schedule an elective C-section (scheduled surgery for non-medical reasons), and what are the medical reasons that you need one?

C-sections are absolutely critical to saving lives in situations where vaginal deliveries would pose risks. They can be essential in situations such as prolonged labor (mom is in labor for 20 hours or more), abnormal positioning (e.g. breech birth, or transverse birth), fetal distress (baby is not getting enough oxygen), birth defects (e.g. babies diagnosed with congenital heart diseases), repeat cesarean, chronic health conditions (e.g. heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV, genital herpes, or any other infection that could be transferred to the baby through a vaginal delivery), cord prolapse, placenta issues, or carrying multiples. What are the reasons you are thinking of an elective cesarean delivery? Before you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I afraid of the pain of labor? There are many effective pain-relief options for laboring women undergoing vaginal birth, including epidural.
  • Have I heard that vaginal birth causes urinary incontinence? Regular pelvic floor exercises significantly reduce that risk.
  • Would I like to have another baby? C-sections increase your risk for placental complications in future pregnancies and although it’s often possible to have a vaginal birth after a C-section, a health care provider might recommend a repeat C-section.

As with all surgeries, they can have risks. These include slower recovery times after childbirth, delays in establishing breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin contact. The sooner you start breastfeeding, the easier it is for you and your baby. If you recover from a c-section, get plenty of rest, avoid lifting heavy objects, take a walk and consult your doctor about pain medication.

Takeaways

The ultimate goal is to have a safe delivery and a healthy baby! Pregnancy and birth can be unpredictable, so be prepared for the unexpected as possible. In my opinion, vaginal birth is the best delivery, but moms-to-be should be prepared in case a cesarean delivery is necessary. Have a doctor you can trust! In many cases, it is difficult to build trust with the doctor who is managing your delivery, because trust takes time. You may ask your doctor several questions regarding your delivery, to establish trust with him. Ask your doctor what will happen during labor, how painful will it be, how much time will it take for the delivery to occur, and his opinion about c-sections. Be well informed about your health condition and the options you have.

References

World Health Organization. (2021, June 16). Caesarean Section Rates Continue to rise, amid Growing Inequalities in Access. Www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news/item/16-06-2021-caesarean-section-rates-continue-to-rise-amid-growing-inequalities-in-access

NHS Choices. (2019). Risks – Caesarean section. NHS.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section/risks/

What to Expect,Editors. (2014, July 28). Having a C-Section (Cesarean Section). What to Expect; WhattoExpect. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/c-section/

‌‌C-Section Recovery Timeline and Aftercare. (2021, October 13). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/c-section-recovery/

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