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Are C-Sections Always the Answer, or Can They Be Dangerous?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on January 21, 2019

Everyone is searching for ways to become more efficient, even doctors. But this isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes, it can even be medical malpractice.

Many expectant parents are encouraged to schedule an elective cesarean section rather than allow nature to take its course. The Lancet, a medical journal, reported that while only 12% of births in 2000 were C-section, in 2015 that number had increased to 21%. The release of this information warranted a comment from the World Health Organization, saying rates in excess of 15% were excessive.

C-sections can be a lifesaving procedure when complications arise in the natural childbirth process. Prolonged labor, abnormal position of the infant, and fetal distress can and should be remedied with a C-section. But along with the benefits the procedure offers, there are risks that parents need to be aware of.

Risks to the Mother

For a mother who delivers via C-section, the risk of death during the procedure is four times higher than during natural childbirth. The risk continues after birth, as mothers who have a C-section are far more likely to develop a serious maternal infection. Some studies have found between 20% to 40% of all women require antibiotics after a C-section to ward off infections of the uterus, the incision, or the urinary tract. And the recovery period from this major surgery is far lengthier than a natural delivery. Some mothers show signs of lingering fatigue, even a year after the procedure.

Risks to the Child

Babies who are delivered via C-section exhibit some differences from babies delivered vaginally. Some of these differences include:

  • An increased risk of suffering from allergies and asthma
  • Increased risk of low blood sugar and poor temperature regulation
  • Slower neurological adaption
  • Differing levels of many hormones
  • A depressed immune system
  • Altered gut flora, which may continue to be an issue for life

Why Are Doctors Performing Unnecessary C-Sections?

The reasons for an unnecessary C-section vary depending on where the delivery occurs. In areas with public healthcare, the procedure is a way to efficiently deliver babies without timing and scheduling issues. Doctors can deliver on a schedule to keep hospital rooms available for more paying patients as well as emergencies. This also helps to create more favorable statistics for the medical providers and hospitals.

But in the United States, this turns a procedure that was used only when medically necessary into a convenience.

Doctors have busy schedules, and have found scheduling C-sections can alleviate many of the late-night calls and deliveries, which were interrupting weekends and holidays. In addition, a C-section is a faster and less complex way to deliver multiples and infants who are in a more precarious position. Even when the mother is not in favor of this major surgery, doctors may use their position of authority to alter the mother’s perception of the procedure.

Warning Signs of an Unnecessary C-Section

A large baby is a legitimate reason for a C-section to protect both the child and the mother. But if the doctor suddenly announces late in the third trimester that your infant is getting too large, it could be an indication he or she wants to schedule a C-section. Parents should know that even with ultrasound, doctors have no way of being certain of the baby’s weight. Ultrasounds have been known to miscalculate a birth weight by as much as one or two pounds. If your doctor is in the habit of performing a great number of elective C-sections, he or she might not be comfortable performing a natural delivery, and will suggest a C-section that is not really needed.

In addition, not all babies in the breech position require a C-section. Not all multiples need to be delivered via C-section, as they are normally smaller than a single infant. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry if you have a high-risk pregnancy, and if your doctor advises a C-section to prevent possible birth injuries, parents are rarely able to say “No.”

Of course, things can also go wrong on the operating table. A bit of carelessness or speed can leave mother or baby with a C-section injury, from a laceration to a painful complication. If you suspect a medical provider caused injury to you or your child during birth, please contact the Seattle birth injury lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. A call to toll-free (888) 228-3860 can schedule a free consultation so you can understand your legal rights.

Filing a claim against your doctor can be a difficult choice to make. But being forced to undergo unnecessary major surgery is not okay. Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., today to learn about your options for seeking compensation and helping to save another mother from this situation.

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