The risks of unnecessary C-sections for mothers and infants

When it comes to childbirth, a Cesarean section, or C-section, is a medical procedure that doctors should only perform when there are certain medical indications. C-sections can be life-saving in some situations. However, the unnecessary use of this procedure can pose significant risks to both mothers and infants.

To ensure the well-being of both mothers and newborns, health care providers must evaluate the medical indications for C-sections before performing them. They should also consider alternative approaches when appropriate.

Maternal risks

Unnecessary C-sections expose mothers to surgical risks, including infection, blood clots and reactions to anesthesia. C-sections also typically require a more extended recovery period compared to vaginal delivery. Furthermore, mothers may experience pain and discomfort after the procedure. This can impact their ability to care for their newborns and themselves.

Multiple C-sections may, too, increase the risk of complications in future pregnancies, such as placenta previa or uterine rupture. These complications can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.

Neonatal risks

Babies born via C-section may have an increased risk of developing respiratory issues compared to those born vaginally. The separation that occurs between the newborn and mother during a C-section can also hinder the essential process of immediate skin-to-skin contact and bonding.

Babies born via C-section are also more likely to have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit, which can result in additional stress for the family and health care costs.

According to USA Today, the World Health Organization believes C-sections are necessary in somewhere between about 10% and 15% of births. In 2018, close to a third of all babies born in the U.S. underwent C-section deliveries, raising questions about how many of those births were medically necessary.

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