The idea that the C section rate in the US is too high is popular, and frequently we notice that the C-section rate of a hospital, group or physician is a measure used to establish their success. In this model, the lower the C-section rate the better, and pushing as hard as possible to obtain a vaginal delivery is valued higher than electing to perform a C-section at the first signs of trouble.
I just came back from a place where it is almost impossible to have a safe C-section (Sierra Leone), and I encourage those who see C-sections as bad and unnecessary to reflect on what life would be like without them. In our great country the chance of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is about 1:10,000. In Sierra Leone it is about 1:50. The chance of a baby dying as a result of the labor or delivery process here is less than 1:1000. In Sierra Leone it is about 1:10. Many of these maternal deaths and almost all of the fetal deaths are directly attributable to the lack of availability of C-sections to deliver babies in distress or obstructed after a prolonged labor. In addition, the formation of obstetric fistula (development of a permanent hole between the bladder and the vagina resulting in constant urine leakage) is directly related to prolonged obstructed labor and is a problem that has been 100 percent eradicated in the Western world due to safe C-sections.
We are extremely privileged to have such incredible medical care available in our country, and understandably some of us take it for granted. It is from a similar position of privilege that some of us choose to avoid other lifesaving options such as vaccinations or mammograms, when those in the developing world yearn for the opportunity to have an end the scourge of vaccine preventable diseases and undiagnosed cancer.
Personally I thank God for C-sections. I thank God that I was able to have one myself when I had my twins 8 years ago and had severe pre-eclampsia, and I know that if had been in West Africa all three of us would have died. Let’s stop complaining about our healthcare system, which may not be perfect but is like a slice of heaven compared to what is available elsewhere in the world, and embrace the wonderful opportunities that we have to be healthy since so many others cannot.
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