Cesarean Section Rates: C-Section is Major Abdominal Surgery

C-sections can be a life-saving procedure; however, it is often over used. Photo by:

C-sections can be a life-saving procedure; however, it is often over used. Photo by Salim Fadhley

A cesarean section, or most commonly known as a c-section is major abdominal surgery. A c-section involves risks for the mother and baby and it is expensive for the family and insurance companies. On the other hand, however, it can be a life-saving procedure, There are many factors that go into the decision of whether or not a woman has to have a c-section, and over the past few decades, cesarean deliveries have increased.

2010 Cesarean Section Rates

When researchers first measured the number of c-sections in 1965, the rate was 4.5 percent, according to the Childbirth Connection. In 2010, however, the c-section rate was 32.8 percent. These rates include women who are having their first (primary) c-section as well as those who are having a second or subsequent c-section.

The primary c-section rate is considered to be more accurate because it looks at first-time c-sections. According to the Childbirth Connection, the primary cesarean rate in 2010 was 23.6 percent. This is a slight decrease since 2009 when the rate was 23.8 percent. So what’s the big deal about c-section rates increasing overall?

Reasons for Cesarean Delivery

Why would you have a c-section? Possibly due to problems occurring with the your health or the baby’s health. These reasons include: Placenta previa (when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix), placenta abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine lining), uterine rupture (when the uterus tears during pregnancy or labor), a breech baby (feet first), cord prolapse (when the umbilical cord comes through the cervix before the baby), lack of oxygen to the baby, failure to progress during labor, larger babies (sometimes seen with mothers who develop gestational diabetes).

A c-section may also be necessary for a baby that has a birth defect to prevent any further injury, and in the case of a mother who is having a repeat c-section.


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Mothers and babies can have complications during or after the c-section. Photo by:

Mothers and babies can have complications during or after the c-section. Photo by: U.S. Navy

Complications from Cesarean Births

C-sections come with their own set of complications for mother and baby, and your risk of complications increases with each multiple c-section.

Complications that can arise during or after a cesarean delivery for the mom include unintentional surgical cuts, infection, blood clots, emergency hysterectomy, hospital re-admission, a more difficult recovery, and even death. The American Pregnancy Association reports that the complications for babies delivered via c-section include difficulty breathing, lower APGAR scores due to the anesthesia, fetal distress, and possibly being (1 or 2 babies per 100) nicked or cut during the procedure.

Cesarean sections also play a role in future pregnancies, according to the Childbirth Connection. Post-C-Section Mothers are at an increased risk for ectopic pregnancies, placenta previa, placental abruption, emergency hysterectomy, and uterine rupture. Babies in future pregnancies are also more likely to need breathing treatments and an extended hospital stay.

Finding a Balance

In certain events, c-sections can save the life of the mother and/or the baby in a matter of minutes. However, c-sections have risks associated with them and when the procedure is not necessary, but done anyway, those risks out weigh the benefits of having a c-section. Determining when a c-section is necessary is important in protecting the health of the mother and her baby.

Resources:

American Pregnancy Association. Reasons for a Cesarean birth and Risks of Cesarean Procedure. (2013). Accessed March 20, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Births:Final Data for 2010. (2013). Accessed March 20, 2013.

Childbirth Connection. Why is the national U.S. cesarean section so high? (2012). Accessed March 20, 2013.

World Health Organization. Identifying barriers and facilitators towards implementing guidelines to to reduce cesarean section rates in Quebec. (2007). Bulletin of the World Health Organization Volume 85, Number 10. Accessed March 20, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH: Health, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Pregnancy
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