An important thing to recognise is that childbirth is a natural biological process that most women are capable of undergoing. Read ahead to know more.
India’s maternal health landscape suffers from both the ‘too little, too late,’ and ‘too much, too soon’ problems. While ‘too little, too late’ refers to insufficient and untimely access to necessary health interventions, ‘too much, too soon’ refers to administration of unnecessary interventions. An example and extreme form of ‘too much, too soon’ are the unnecessary Caesarean section births. India has been facing an alarming rise in C-section rates, which are now much above recommended levels. The rise in C-sections is a complex phenomenon and is the result of numerous factors. Some of these factors include the relative convenience and cost-effectiveness of C-sections, increased fear of vaginal childbirth among women and doctors, and the lack of support systems to deal with these fears.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth, Dr. Janhavi Nilekani, PhD, Founder and Chairperson for Aastrika Foundation & Aastrika Midwifery Centre, elucidates the alarming rise in C-section child birth.
While C-sections can be lifesaving when medically indicated, they also expose the mother and baby to several complications, when done unnecessarily. Caesareans are a major abdominal surgery, and increase the recovery time post birth, along with increased risk of infections, and make immediate bonding and breastfeeding harder. C-section births also increase the risk of having C-sections in subsequent births. They also contribute to long term mortality and morbidity.
An important thing to recognise is that childbirth is a natural biological process that most women are capable of undergoing. The majority of pregnancies are low-risk, and do not require significant interventions. In today’s time, it has been normalised to make a ‘choice’ between C-section delivery and normal delivery. As important as it is to provide every woman with respect, dignity, and choice during pregnancy and childbirth, it is also true that a lot of women choose a C-section because of lack of information and support. Healthcare providers need to provide accurate information to women regarding the risks and benefits of C-section births.
Also read: Common C-Section Questions That A Woman Must Ask Her Gynaecologist
The modern sedentary lifestyles are one factor for high C-section rates. A lot can be done during the prenatal period to maximise a woman’s chances of having a normal birth. I recommend all low-risk women remain active throughout their pregnancy, with brisk walks, squats, and other exercises. I also recommend attending childbirth education classes to understand the physiology of birth and be as prepared as possible. Research has also shown that having a labour companion of the woman’s choice during labour and childbirth provides necessary emotional, physical, and psychological support to the woman.
The most important thing, which can help couples reduce the probability of undergoing a C-section, is carefully selecting a care provider. I believe that data transparency is a key solution to this alarming rise in the C-section rates, and urge women to ask their healthcare provider to share their C-section data. It is also important to ask questions, figure out if they are open to spending time answering questions and allaying fears. I highly encourage couples to develop a birth plan and find a healthcare provider that will support you in following your birth plan. A birth plan is a document that helps the couple understand childbirth, think through different scenarios, and articulate their preferences.
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