Cesarean Birth

Healing Our Children Book Excerpt

The medicalized management of birth frequently involves cutting and other forms of invasion of the body. Cutting, in the form of episiotomy and cesarean surgery (especially when not necessary), is a thinly disguised form of violence.

Prevalance of Cesarean Births

Cesarean deliveries have saved the lives of many mothers and babies. The medical procedure itself, which I believe could be vastly improved, has an aspect of good in it. It can prevent
an outcome that might otherwise result in death for the mother and/or the baby. In the U.S. in 1970, the average percentage
of births resulting in cesarean sections was 5.5%; in 2004, the average percentage was 29.1%.424 Do you see a problem with this figure? I sure do.

When is Cesarean (usually) Really Necessary?

Here are a few examples of when a cesarean is likely necessary. If the baby is in a sideways position, or if the head gets stuck and labor positioning strategies cannot correct it a cesarean may be the only option. Placenta previa, in which the placenta blocks access to the birth canal, and rupture of the uterus and
cephalopelvic disproportion (not very common), when the baby’s head absolutely won’t fit through the pelvic brim, as well as a few other cases may call for a cesarean to be performed.

Countless Uncessary Cesarean's Performed

According to a scientific study published in Social Science & Medicine, at least half of cesareans are performed unnecessarily, because medically verifiable conditions requiring a surgery were not present at the time. The medical
industry profits from these needless surgeries to the tune of approximately $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) per year. As of 2008, there are approximately 1,300,000 cesareans performed yearly in the U.S., and thus 650,000 cesareans are performed unnecessarily per year. Based on the comparison of
2004 and 1970 cesarean rates, let’s assume for now that 5.5% is a reasonable rate for cesareans.

The actual figure, then, of unnecessary cesareans is more likely to be over 944,000 per year. Here we can clearly see an anesthetized form of violence against women and their children.
Birth physicians just can’t seem to keep their surgical knives away from the womb.

Cesarean and Lack of Progress

About 294,000 cesareans are performed yearly due to lack of progress during labor, and an estimated 24% or 70,560 of those are done for the wrong reasons — for example, because the woman’s cervix was not even given a chance to dilate (open). The real diagnosis of lack of progress, according to the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is that “women be in the active phase of labor and show no change in cervical dilatation or descent of the fetal presenting part for at least 2

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Notes From Readers:

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