Women in olden days looked upon childbirth as a minor hitch in their day-to-day lives. But times changed, and birthing became a timed option for many to facilitate their dual roles: breadwinner and caregiver. Along the way began the process of choosing the method for giving birth: normal vaginal delivery or a Caesarean section (C-section). The stark difference in today’s childbirth norm and those of the yesteryear is the increase in the number of C-section.
C-section, or what is popularly known as Caesarean, is performed by a surgical incision to the abdomen and uterus. It is usually the relied-upon method in cases when delivery under normal conditions is no longer possible or when the delivery comes at a health-risk to either the mother c or the baby. However, such cases were formerly, few and far between. According to the World Health Organization, the ideal rate of C-section considered by the international community since 1985 is 10–15 per cent, making it a common procedure in developed as well as developing countries.
Dr Nilesha Chitre, DNB, obstetrician, gynaecologist and infertility specialist, believes that a couple prefer to opt for C-section when they conceive after undergoing fertility treatment. “In such cases, doctors do not like to take risks associated with natural birth,” explains Dr Chitre. “Sometimes, the baby has to be closely monitored, and a near term Caesarean delivery may be necessary, depending on the level of complications that may arise.”
Fear of the ensuing pain
Some women experience tokophobia, the fear of pain associated with pregnancy and childbirth. They may undergo severe trauma by simply listening to stories from the labour ward. Those opting for C-section largely belong to this category, although gynaecologists confirm that these women form an inconsequential percentage of the total C-section cases performed.
This has become a huge deciding factor today. According to Dr Varsha Parekh, MD, obstetrician and gynaecologist, the convenience of precisely timing the birth allows the parents to plan the care of an older child, if they have one. It also gives a chance to the other family members to be present and the working mother to plan her work schedule accordingly. “There is also an increase in demand for a C-section delivery on a particular day or muhurat in India,” says Dr Parekh.
Maintaining a C-section pattern for more deliveries
When a woman has delivered her first baby via Caesarean, delivering the second baby by normal vaginal birth becomes risky. In such cases, even the doctors do not prefer to take a chance for fear of the mother’s health.
Benefits attached to a C-section
It may sound surprising, but C-sections can actually minimize the risk of foetal injury and brain damage associated with normal labour, which requires that the baby be pushed out of the vagina.
In some cases, even doctors are known to controversially suggest a C-section to avoid waiting for a normal delivery. This trend is true especially in case of approaching weekends. There is also an ongoing debate that some doctors favour C-section, as it is a costlier procedure than a normal, vaginal birth. In a private medical set-up, the rate of C-sections is almost an alarming 50 per cent more than the average norm. With modern technology, a C-section seems highly probable, as we can predict minute complications way ahead of their appearance. Like most medical decisions, one is free to choose the best option to deliver a baby. However, no matter what your choice of birthing, ensure that the decision rests with a competent doctor. Moreover, if you can deliver your baby normally, you probably should.
C FOR CONSIDERATION
Apart from the concerns of a C-section, sometimes it becomes a necessity to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby. A doctor is likely to advocate a monitored
C-section in case of the following conditions:
The mother has a particularly large or a breech baby (feet down)
The baby has an abnormal heart rate
The mother’s contractions are weak
There is a problem with the placenta
The mother has high blood pressure
C FOR CAUTION
Despite the trend, truth remains that Caesarean deliveries are far more detrimental to a mother’s health than normal deliveries. Incision to the abdomen puts one at a greater risk of infections and can increase one’s chances of excessive bleeding and blood clots.
Recovery time is less in case of vaginal birth (1–2 weeks) as compared to that in a C-section (six weeks, minimum)
A C-section is likely to complicate future pregnancies. There is also a greater chance of placenta implantation problem, uterine rupture, and bladder and bowel injuries. Research also suggests that health outcomes are likely to be worse for infants born before the normal gestation period compared to infants who had a full-term birth. Elective C-section more than doubles the chance of a baby having respiratory problems. The maternal mortality rate is also higher in C-sections than in normal vaginal births.
As opposed to the above in a vaginal delivery, one faces a lower risk of infection and a faster recovery time with fewer complications, both for the mother and the baby. Some doctors also maintain that the bonding process with the baby is stronger when a woman gives birth naturally. Although, this issue is open for debate.