the new york times ran an article today titled, simply enough, “caesarian births are at an all-time high in the u.s.” in it, we find out that 32% of births in the u.s. are now done via caesarian section. i’m not surprised at all.
before henry was born in 2005 (cripes! i’m so old…), every dad/partner/friend in our childbirth class — which i wasn’t a very big fan of, as i thought it was WAY too impractical and touchy-feely, not to mention the ridiculously awful natural-birth movies we had to watch — was given a card that had several questions that we were supposed to ask a doctor once the conversation veered towards a c-section. these started out with “is this procedure medically necessary?” and ended up with something like “what the hell happened to our birth plan!?” sounded perfect in class.
fast-forward about a month from that card and 14 hours into a labor that wasn’t progressing. the doctor — not alison’s doctor, but another in the practice who was notorious for performing c-sections — comes in and states that it will be a caesarian birth. “is this procedure medically necessary?” i asked, and the doctor just looked at me and said something like “it’s been 14 hours without significant progress and we can either agree to do this now or i can come back in two hours and we can agree to do it then.” we at least made her come back in two hours, but the deal was kind of done then. and it was pretty terrible — alison was flopping around like a fish out of water and so cold from the anesthesia, and it was a terrible feeling to not be able to help at all.
What we’re worried about is, the Caesarean section rate is going up, but we’re not improving the health of babies being delivered or of moms.
this is the biggest problem I have with the c-section thing. aside from cases where there is immediate danger to the baby or mother, what’s the rush to the operating room? it really doesn’t feel like it’s NOT because doctors want to stay on a schedule, get more deliveries out of the way, and impose a sense of order on the day’s docket. and then once you’ve had one caesarian birth you’re probably going to have another one.
Risks to the mother increase with each subsequent Caesarean, because the surgery raises the odds that the uterus will rupture in the next pregnancy, an event that can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby. Caesareans also increase the risk of dangerous abnormalities in the placenta during later pregnancies, which can cause hemorrhaging and lead to a hysterectomy. Repeated Caesareans can make it risky or even impossible to have a large family.
there’s no amount of ANYTHING that i can do to convince alison that we should have a third kid. though even if we did want another, would it be worth the risk? this is just lunacy — i’m no expert, just a two-time-onlooker-with-involvement, but we aren’t doing anything that makes sure that c-sections are only done when medically necessary. we’re putting mothers at risk for the sake of babies that might look better when they’re first born or because we need to keep things on schedule.
it doesn’t always work out like it did in knocked up.