The Land Of Midwives Is A Hotbed Of C-Sections

Did you know that 1 out of 5 Did you know that one in five pregnant women in India undergo C-sections even when they don’t medically need one?

Every mom aspires to have a natural birth. It’s another medal a mom has to wear. It defines so many unsaid things for the rest of the world – how fit are you, how modern are you, how will you birth the subsequent children you will bear.

Given that India is a land of midwives ( dai) we would assume that a large part of India would have vaginal births and how easy it should be. Picture a good old Bollywood movie where the lady would come out and tell the pacing grandfather or father, congratulations you have had a boy/girl.

Let me burst the bubble for you here. A recent study published and republished by the Mint found

1 in 5 pregnant women in India undergo C-sections even when they don’t medically need one.

During pregnancy, a pregnant woman is vulnerable and fear is what engulfs them. Their first circle of influence becomes friends and close relatives and they are making their decisions on what is the common practice within that circle. 

The study that covered over 59,000 women stated that the occurrence was primarily in South India and women who delivered in private clinics were 30% more likely to go through a C – section than women in a government facility. 

We at Kidsstoppress spoke to birthing experts and moms and would love for you to share their piece with a mom who is going through pregnancy at this moment in her life so she can make informed choices in her birthing journey. 

According to the World Health Organisation, which considers the ideal rate for C-sections to be between 10% and 15%, these surgeries are effective in saving maternal and infant lives but only when they are required for medically indicated reasons. 

C-Section- What You Need To Know

A caesarean section (C-section) is a method used to deliver a baby by making cuts in the abdomen and uterus. Some women choose it to avoid hours of painful labour. But compared to vaginal birth, this procedure can have future risks for women.

With Caesarean Deliveries, There Could Be Complications

  • Pain or infection at the site of the incision and longer-lasting soreness
  • Increased risk of blood loss
  • Greater risk of infection
  • Risks from general anaesthesia.
  • Fetal injury

Also, a C-Section is surgery and recovery for the new mom takes much longer. 

Researchers at the International Institute for Population Sciences studied 2015-16 data from the National Family Health Survey to analyze an approximate 59,000 women across India who gave birth in the previous five years and did not medically need a C-section. The study found that one in five pregnant women in India undergo C-sections even when they don’t medically need one.

Findings Of The National Family Survey 2019-20

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  • There has been an increase in the number of Caesarean section (C-section) deliveries in a majority of states. States such as Telangana, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, and some in the northeast, have shown a jump in C-section deliveries, especially at private healthcare facilities, in the last five years.
  • NFHS 2019-20 data shows that in Maharashtra, 94.7 per cent of deliveries were institutionalised as against 90.3 per cent in 2015-16. C-section births rose from 20 per cent in 2015-16 to 25.4 per cent in 2019-20.
  • Notable exceptions to this trend were Lakshadweep, which saw a decline, from 38.4 per cent in 2015-16 to 31.3 per cent in 2019-20, while Nagaland also showed a decline in the number of births via C-sections at private healthcare facilities, from 31.5 per cent to 23.6 per cent in 2019-20.
  • At 69%, Telangana has the highest overall rate of C-sections in the country.

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Professor Usha Ram, from the Department Of Public Health & Mortality Studies at IIPS says

It is also important to note that the family size in India has reduced substantially and the couple can afford to spend for C-sections for one or two deliveries, unlike previous times, without fear of any medical complications in the subsequent deliveries.

It is only in the government sector hospitals in rural India where less than 15% of women give birth through surgery. The C-section rate in government hospitals in the urban sector is nearly double at 26%. But when it comes to private sector hospitals, a majority of births (54% in rural areas and 56% in urban areas) are conducted through a C-section, which is almost four times more than the ideal rate.

Anupama Kumar Vijayanand is a well-known childbirth & lactation educator and runs a social enterprise called Vriksham. We asked her about birthing choices – Caesarean vs Natural Birth – and the bane of one over the other. She says

There are  lot of resources out there. Do your research – be it birth, preconception choosing our hospital, whether natural birth – whatever it is you have to be proactive and make use of the resources. Some feel that one type of birthing is better than the other but it actually comes down to making an informed choice. When you are prepared for it physically & mentally, your postpartum recovery is much better. If it is pushed on you, it takes a toll on you. 

We also asked Dr Vanshika Gupta Adukia, Pregnancy, Childbirth & Lactation Specialist about why natural birth is important and what you can do about it. 

Natural birth is every pregnant mum’s dream and rightly so, but one must positively work towards the same. Preparing for natural birth is something every couple should work on together as a team. The to be daddy can prove to be the birthing mum’s biggest cheerleader + motivator, not only during the process of labour & birth but right from the days of pregnancy.

Tips For Expectant Moms

  • Take a good childbirth class – Gett the right information & make informed decisions by enrolling in a good labour-management education session for couples in the third trimester. This will help you stay aware and overcome your fears.
  • Stay active – Pregnancy comes with its shares of highs and lows, but it is crucial to stay active. Ensure you indulge in low to moderate-intensity physical activity in the form of prenatal yoga, pilates, walking, simple breathing techniques. If nothing- contribute in your day-to-day simple home chores that are feasible!
  • Work those pelvic floor muscles – Pelvic floor muscles are key to pushing during a natural birth and pelvic floor exercises can help in relaxing and strengthening these set of muscles. Make sure you take your kegel exercises seriously!
  • Practice labour breathing – While this may seem like a boring one, labour breathing techniques must be practised from the third trimester to help the body adapt and condition the lungs for the time of actual labour. Labour breathing proves to reduce fetal distress and help ease labour management.
  • Keep moving in labour – Once you realize your contractions have started do not look at taking the easy way out by staying in bed. While it is important to give the body rest, moving in early labour and staying mobile actually helps speed up the process and shorten labour itself.

We would love to know what your experiences have been. Did you have to undergo an emergency C-section or did your doctor support your wishes for a natural birth? Share your stories with us – email us at [email protected]

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