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C-Section Births Riskier, But Still On The Rise

Steve Wagner

The World Health Organization (WHO) and most world health experts agree that the “medically necessary” percentage of births requiring cesarean section is between ten and fifteen percent; however, United States c-sections average out to be almost thirty-three percent of births. WHO found that there are not likely to be additional decreases in maternal or infant death when the proportion of births by c-section increases above ten percent. In fact, many studies show that the risk of complications is increased when c-sections are used in low-risk births.

In Indiana, c-section births have increased by ten percent since the late 90s, following a general national trend. The rate of c-section births in the state is just a hair lower than the national average (30.3% vs. 32.7%), but it’s a data point that can be misleading. In fact, nearly a third of Indiana hospitals have c-section rates above the national average, ranging from just above the average to above fifty percent.

Why does this matter? It matters because it puts real women and real infants at risk when it is not medically necessary to do so. C-sections are major surgeries, with potentially serious complications. There can be damage to organs, internal bleeding, blood clots, infection, and even death. Even when the surgery goes well, the recovery is longer and the entire process is far more expensive.

The risks and added cost are certainly well-worth it when medically necessary, such as when the life of the mother or child is at-risk. That said, there are many other factors that play a role in the number of c-sections that do not fall into the “medically necessary” category. Common labor interventions make c-section birth more likely. Epidurals often slow the natural process down and can result in impatient medical providers and nervous mothers-to-be. In addition, having an epidural increases the risk of findings of fetal distress, which is more likely to lead to a c-section.

Women place so much trust in their medical teams that they often underestimate (and are not provided with proper assistance to enhance) their own abilities to give birth without surgery. In many cases, mothers-to-be are encouraged to consider unwanted interventions and c-section birth from the outset of labor. Some doctors do so out of genuine concern, but it is well-known that c-sections are easier to plan, organize, and easier to plan around. They are also more profitable to hospitals; in fact, hospitals may feel squeezed by insurance companies who pay the same for a vaginal birth whether it takes 5 hours or 25 hours. Simply put, a vaginal birth is unpredictable and therefore less convenient for pretty much everyone except for the mother-to-be and family members.

The impact of a successful major surgery is financial, physical, and emotional, but that of a problematic surgery, particularly when discussing birth, can be devastating. If you feel you were pressured, encouraged, or induced into having an unnecessary c-section that resulted in pain, suffering, or loss, there is recourse for you. Though nothing can make the loss of or injury to a mother or child less painful, it may be possible to provide peace of mind in knowing your financial obligations and medical/psychological needs can be met. Our Indianapolis-based medical malpractice attorneys have experience in birth injury and will provide you the legal support, and services you need. Call Wagner Reese now for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.


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