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Avoiding the Cesarean Epidemic

Posted on April 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The United States ranks 3rd in the world in Cesarean delivery rates, with fully one in three women in the US giving birth via cesarean.

Doctors are only recently beginning to acknowledge the dangers posed by multiple cesareans. Not only from having repeated (and often unnecessary) surgeries, but from the placenta itself, as the placenta can grow abnormally and actually invade the uterine wall. ABC News ran a story recently about this, with the apt title: "Placenta Gives Life, But Can Also Kill as C-Section Cllimbs"

 

So why ARE so many women in this country sacrificing our current and future health and wellbeing during birth? Is it because we're incapable of giving birth without major abdominal surgery? Are our medical providers and technology just so good that they are able to 'save' all these babies and mothers from some hidden danger? The WHO recommends a rate of no more than 15%. Here in the US, the rate is expected to peak over 50% before it (hopefully) stops rising.

 

(Just to put it in perspective, we also rank 34th in the world for Infant Mortality rates, and 19th in Maternal Mortality rates). So while our Cesarean rates are through the roof, MORE mothers and babies are dying - not less. 

 

With the current disturbing trend in VBAC bans in (40% of) US hospitals, many women are now finding that the cesarean they had previously makes difficult at best to achieve a vaginal delivery for future births. This is really a tragedy when one considers that the vast majority of first-time (and future) cesareans are easily avoidable.

 

The mass media is only now beginning to hint at the dangers of the repeat cesarean, and ACOG is finally beginning to make an effort to reduce our cesarean rate. But with a Cesarean rate that's already twice what the WHO recommends, and projected to reach over 50% before it levels out... it falls to the parents to understand what THEY can do to avoid unnecessary surgery for the birth of their child.

We're sadly fortunate to live in a state that at least ALLOWS midwifery. A midwife can give you an amazing HBAC, and some of our midwives have hospital privelages as well. We even have one or two doctors who will give you a VBA2C or VBA3C. But the work lays not only in finding your provider. You also need to educate yourself fully. You need to be capable of understanding when a particular test or intervention is actually NOT in your best interests based on the evidence, and making the informed decision to refuse or allow it. You need the tools for a successful labor. And you need the confidence to know that you, the both of you, are strong and capable.  This is YOUR birth. Nobody can rock your birth like you can.

 


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