As rate of C-sections rises, so do known risks

In the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine researchers reveal that women who have multiple C-sections at term but before reaching 39 weeks gestation have double the chance of having a baby with serious complications. 

In Canada, more than a quarter of women had C-sections in 2006 compared to just 17.6 per cent in 1993. The rise is partly attributed to higher obesity rates and women giving birth later in life. There are also suggestions that some women prefer C-sections as a way of setting predictable delivery dates. C-sections can also be combined with a tummy tuck

Last summer the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada issued a statement warning against caesarians where possible. It said that unnecessary C-sections put future pregnancies in jeopardy, require longer recovery times for mothers and generally strain the health care system.

A 2007 report by the federal Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System showed that women who had C-sections had three times the rate of “severe illness” compared to those who had planned vaginal deliveries, and they were hospitalized for longer.

SOGC summarized the findings, which were also published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, this way: “…elective C-sections have higher risks of anesthetic complications, major infections, obstetrical wound, and cardiac arrest” and noted that these women “were more likely to require an immediate hysterectomy due to bleeding.”

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