AirTalk for February 20, 2014

New guidelines urge reduction in C-sections, but will doctors and patients listen?

FRANCE-MATERNITY-DELIVERY

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

A doctor makes an ultrasound to a patient on September 17, 2013 at the maternity of the Lens hospital, northern France.

Concerns over skyrocketing rates of cesarean sections across the country have prompted a new guidelines encouraging doctors and pregnant women to be more patient during labor. One in 3 American women now delivers via C-section, a rate more than 60 percent higher than just 15 years ago.

In response, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine released a new report on Thursday saying doctors should let low-risk women spend longer in the early part of labor before assuming that labor has stalled.

C-sections can be lifesaving in emergencies but there are concerns that the surgical procedure is being used too often on otherwise healthy women. A C-section requires major surgery and complications such as heavy bleeding and infection are far more likely than with natural deliveries. The maternal death rates for C-sections are three times higher than women who deliver vaginally with 13 deaths per 100,000 women.

There also can be health concerns for babies who are delivered surgically because the birth process helps squeeze extra fluid from the lungs that can cause breathing problems after birth. The labor and delivery process is often confusing and intimidating for women who might not feel comfortable questioning their doctors advice.

How can women be more encouraged to speak up during the birth process? What sort of non-surgical interventions can help women deliver naturally?

Guest: 

Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


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