Not encouraged that women are subjected to major surgery unnecessarily, but that the public is being made aware of these things. Cesareans, though I am glad that they are available for true emergencies and necessitative situations, are overused and abused. For too long, the Obstetrical field has disregarded the risks that are associated with Cesareans; not only physical but emotional. Now that the public is being made aware of these, they cannot hide the facts or disregard them any longer - and as a result, my hope is that we will see a decline in elective, 'emergency', and repeat cesareans.
In general, many women know the physical risks of cesarean, as any surgery, include:
- Adverse reactions to medications
- Suture rupture
- loss of organ (in this case, hysterectomy)
- heart attack
- blood clots/stroke
- and death
In addition to these risks, there are cesarean-specific risks:
- higher incidence of future pregnancies resulting in miscarriage
- higher incidence of future pregnancies resulting in ectopic pregnancy
- higher incidence of future pregnancies resulting in still-birth
- higher incidence of newborn and neonatal death
- higher incidence of placental abnormalities in future pregnancies (previa, abrutio, etc..)
- Uterine rupture
- Uterine prolapse in later life
- breastfeeding problems
- Newborn complications (depressed respiration, jaundice, infection, severe subluxations, spinal cord trauma, etc...)
- and more
On the flip side, women are slowly becoming aware of the emotional risks associated with cesareans. These include:
- higher incidence of postpartum depression
- Maternal bonding difficulty
- Long-term PTSD
- and others
We have been led to believe that surgery, as it is 'controlled', is safer and easier - more effective. The problem that we have found in this faulty logic is that life is not controllable - neither throughout our livelihoods, nor at our births and that of our children. The risks far outweigh the benefits - and our cesarean stats in the United States are in a frighteningly high position to be coming to this conclusion. The US has the highest rate of cesareans in all of the developed countries - 30% in 2005. More frightening still is, once a woman is given a cesarean, she is discouraged from having a vaginal in most states (no-VBAC policies).
Thankfully, grassroots programs are sprouting up all over the country to combat this growing infection - the most notable and extensive is the Internation Cesarean Awareness Network. There, you will find information on legal issues, federal laws that protect women from hospital and state policies who try to cite no-VBAC, studies on VBAC success and risks, information on Cesarean risks and ways to lower your chances of recieving an iatrogenically-necessitated surgery, and support. In addition, midwives, natural childbirth educators, and holistically minded medical professionals are speaking out about these studies and risks. On the homefront, women who have had cesareans are beginning their own groups and webspeils to bring awareness and education to other women.
One of my favorite, yet most distrubing, findings that delves into the emotional turmoil that many women find themselves in after cesarean is the Cesarean Art page. This beautiful woman expresses, through her art, the attitudes, frusterations, anger, and hurt many women find themselves in after going 'under the knife'.
Help spread the word - Cesareans hurt women. Unless there is a medical indication for it, this practice should be avoided at all costs. That means that we need to lower the risks of unecessary cesareans at the roots - by educating women and demanding that medical practices advocate that routine medicalization of the event of childbirth increases cesarean rates through introduction of risks that would otherwise not present themselves.
Links of interest: