Cesarean section births carry risks to both mother and newborn, and the World Health Organization has recommended that a country have a rate of cesarean sections at no more than 15%, meaning that ideally, at least 85% of births are “natural” births.
Few industrialized countries meet that standard. According to a 2011 report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Scandinavian countries had the best cesarean statistics, all under 20%. But the cesarean rate in the United Kingdom was 23.7%, the United States 32.4%, and at the top of the list, were China at 46.2%, and Brazil at 47.4%.
According to a study, published by Brazilian researchers in the British Medical Journal (2011):
“In the past few decades, Brazil has been one of the countries with highest proportion of deliveries by caesarean section in the world.According to data from a national health survey, the overall caesarean section rate in Brazil in 2006 was 43.6%, but in the private sector it can be more than 80%. More than 850 000 unnecessary caesarean sections are being done each year in Latin America, and almost half of them occur in Brazil.”
The reason for the high cesarean section rate in Brazil is not due to poverty or inequality. If anything, it has been said that having a cesarean section in Brazil is a status symbol, even “the Louis Vuitton of the maternity world.” The reasons for this are many and complex—more convenience for the mother and the doctor, less pain, complicated insurance issues, among others.
Women need to be better informed of the pros and cons of natural vs. cesarean section births. Cesarean section is a surgical procedure, which carries surgical risks, and a longer hospitalization and greater expense. Further, once a woman has a cesarean section, she is compromised if she decides to have her next baby naturally, as the wall of her uterus is weaker after the incision, making a vaginal delivery more risky.
There are greater risks for the newborn as well. Babies born by cesarean section are more likely to have respiratory distress, low blood sugar, and a higher risk of requiring a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
And some of the problems following a cesarean birth may occur long after birth. At the end of February 2014, a group of British doctors published a research study in the medical journal PLOS ONE which analyzed data from 10 countries, and found that babies born by cesarean section were between 22 and 26 percent more likely to be overweight or obese when they reached adulthood, compared with babies born naturally.
This is a complex and controversial topic and pregnant women should have a discussion of the benefits and risks of each method of childbirth with their doctor. You might be interested in the links below, giving more information about natural childbirth.
See also in ProcuraMed:
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