Natural Birth is Best
November 15, 2007
A major study of more than 94,000 births found that women who have a planned (elective) caesarean section put themselves, and their babies, at increased risk of serious complications and death.
Risk of maternal death was three to five times higher compared to vaginal birth
Risk of requiring a hysterectomy after a caesarian was four times higher than after vaginal birth
Being admitted to intensive care, requiring a hospital stay of more than seven days was twice as high for those who underwent planned caesarians, compared to those who had natural births
The only time caesarian section was a safer alternative than vaginal birth was for babies who were in a breech position. But for normal, headfirst deliveries, the risk of the baby dying or suffering serious complications was one-and-a-half times higher when an elective (non-emergency) caesarian was performed.
This study should be a wake-up call, as nearly 25 percent of all deliveries are now caesarian sections. According to lead researcher Dr. Jose Villar, “The increase in rates of caesarean delivery at an institutional level is not associated with any clear overall benefit for the baby or the mother but is linked with increased morbidity for both.”
Said Dr. James Walker, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and an obstetrician in Leeds, “[C-sections] can save lives in some circumstances but it does have risks for the mother and baby. It is important we don’t think of them as just another delivery option. This research is a reality check that we don’t go too far.”
Sources:The Telegraph October 31, 2007 British Medical Journal October 30, 2007 [Epub ahead of print]