Editiorial by Senior Midwife Tonya Brooks
The Natural Birth & Women’s Center Staff and I remain concerned about the high and rising cesarean rates. And we believe reporters should take a look at long term infant and rising maternal death rates and examine the facts before reporting that cesareans are safer. We have compliled a huge database of research on cesarean sections, much of which we have included below for your convenience to make your own informed decisions. The rising cesarean section rate has not improved long term infant outcomes nor improved survival rates of anyone but high-risk babies. However, cesarean sections have increased maternal morbidity and death and the rate are still rising.
Cesarean sections take up to six full weeks to recover as opposed to vaginal deliveries, which usually take a few hours.
Infection rates are higher in cesarean births, often as high as 33%. Post cesarean section wound infections are a serious and common complaint.
Blood Loss and Death
Cesareans do increase maternal blood loss, hemorrhage and death rates. Post cesarean healing can cause adhesive tissue to grow the uterus to the abdominal wall causing pain with movement, sex, and driving, and increasing early hysterectomy. Cesareans put future pregnancies at risk for uterine rupture not only in labor. Uterine ruptures while rare, can occur in pregnancy, creating a risk factor women with unscarred uteruses do not have.
Pregnancy, not birth, causes bladder problems later on in life. There is conflicting but no real evidence that c-sections improve a women’s chances of having fewer bladder problems. Bladder problems occur with a large percentage of women who have never been pregnant. Bladder problems are more related to genetics and hormones.
Finally, women who give birth by c-section can’t pick up their baby without pain, nurse without pain, hold or care for other children at all. Those mothers trade a few hours of labor for at least two solid weeks of post op pain, often requiring heavy dugs like codeine, which does get into breast milk.
Accepting reports and “junk science” as fact causes thousands of women to risk unnecessary surgery by implying surgery doesn’t hurt. Maybe we should all look a little harder.
During the Rose Bowl, I was called from a hospital to help a woman having baby #4 after three successful vaginal deliveries. Doctors decided to augment the labor with pitocin. This caused a fetal distress and an emergency c-section. The baby is OK, but the cesarean section caused the mother to bleed out after the c-section, resulting in a second surgery to remove her uterus and ovary. The young mother of four is on life support. She may make it. But there is a price to pay for doctors whose real motivation for “planned” cesarean in not reducing risk, but is beating malpractice cases, and it is a price that is paid in blood and future fertility risk by women.
Cesarean Section Research ~ Looking at the Risk
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