As research continues to mount for the risks of cesarean surgery, the CDC released new, staggering statistics today reporting that 31.8% of women endure birth by cesarean in the United States (2007). [This is no different to the stats in Australia as of 2006. No doubt our caesarean rate is higher now]. This announcement comes after the release of significant findings from the New England Journal of Medicine reinforcing that birth by cesarean surgery before 39 weeks of pregnancy causes increased complications in newborns.
Despite the latest advances in medical technology, health care providers cannot determine a baby's due date with 100% accuracy. [Babies can come anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks and still be considered term. So if a baby was not destined to come into this world until 42 weeks, and a caesarean was performed at say 38 weeks, that baby would be 4 weeks premature]. Therefore, cesarean surgeries scheduled before a woman's estimated due date could result in a baby born as early as 36 weeks to a few days before the baby is actually due. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, a baby's lungs mature and a protective layer of fat forms, both of which are vital developments for a healthy baby ... Without time during labor to prepare the baby to breathe, lungs cells may not be ready. Thus, babies born by cesarean surgery, even when they are full-term, need to go to an intensive care unit more frequently than babies who were born vaginally to get help breathing.
Research ... [suggests] that cesarean surgery performed prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy increases poor outcomes in babies. Of the babies in the NEJM study born before 39 weeks, more than 26% had complications, including the need to be on a ventilator, respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar and severe infection (sepsis).
"Overuse of cesarean surgery complicates the otherwise natural process of birth," says Lamaze Institute Chair Debra Bingham, LCCE, MS, RN, DrPH, "Allowing the natural process to occur not only reduces risks for mothers in this and future pregnancies, but also reduces health risks for her baby."
Spontaneous labor is almost always the best indication for a baby's physical readiness for life outside of the womb. As one of the key steps to a healthy birth, Lamaze International recommends that women let labor begin on its own. ... When a birth outcome is good, mother and baby can bond and start breastfeeding immediately after birth-both of which provide the best start for a baby's growth and development.
Lamaze International President Pam Spry, PhD, CNM, FACNM, LCCE says, "Maternity care in the United States is at a crossroads. The most commonly used practices don't align with the best evidence for a healthy birth." ...
Cesarean surgery ... also carries risks for women, such as blood loss, clotting, infection and severe pain, and poses future risks, such as infertility and complications during future pregnancies such as stillbirth and placenta problems like percreta and accreta, which can lead to excessive bleeding, bladder injury, hysterectomy and maternal death ...