The rising rate of unnecessary Caesarean sections in the United States is a topic of ongoing concern in maternity care. C-sections are sometimes necessary and can be life-saving. However, the frequency of their performance when not medically necessary raises risks for mothers and babies.
Understanding the potential complications associated with unnecessary C-sections helps promote informed decision-making in maternity care.
Alarming rates of unnecessary C-sections
The United States sees an alarming number of unnecessary C-sections. These surgeries contribute to the high rate of surgical deliveries. Many of these C-sections occur without a clear medical need. When this happens, it exposes mothers and infants to avoidable risks and complications. Factors such as convenience and scheduling can influence the decision to perform a C-section. This often occurs even when a vaginal delivery might be a safer, more viable option.
Increased risk of complications
Unnecessary C-sections come with a high risk of complications compared to vaginal births. Mothers undergoing C-sections are at an increased risk of infection and blood clots. They may also face longer recovery times. Babies born through C-sections may face respiratory issues. They also face an increased likelihood of ending up in the neonatal intensive care unit. These complications impact the immediate postpartum period. They can also have long-term consequences for mothers and infants.
Impacts on future pregnancies
Women who undergo unnecessary C-sections may face challenges in future pregnancies. The scar from a C-section can increase the risk of complications, such as placenta previa. Additionally, repeat C-sections can lead to increased risks with each additional surgery.
Scientific American reports that U.S. doctors perform about half a million unnecessary C-sections each year. Addressing the prevalence of these unnecessary procedures requires a collective effort from health care providers, policymakers and expectant mothers.