Doctors have been trying to convince the public for many years that Caesarean childbirth means a greater risk for the health of the mother and her child than natural childbirth. Despite this fact the percentage of C-sections in Polish hospitals has been increasing with each year. Now it is 37 per cent. "Experts are particularly concerned that Caesarean childbirths have become something of a fad. Pregnant women crave this procedure because they are afraid of the gruelling experience and pain related to natural delivery. However, this often is the result of the lack of knowledge about C-section itself and the possibility of the occurrence of perinatal complications, including even the death of the mother," underlined Prof. Ryszard Poręba, who for many years was the Head of the Polish Gynaecological Society (PTG).
Specialists remind us that Caesarean childbirth is an obstetric surgery whose purpose is to immediately terminate pregnancy or labour when further waiting for their natural termination poses a significant threat for the mother and her child.
The hazardous section
"Contrary to the common view that C-section is safe for the child, all neonatologists share the opinion that the health condition of babies born through Caesarean birth is poorer – they are more susceptible to respiratory tract problems, they also find it more difficult to adapt to the conditions outside the mother’s body," stated Prof. Poręba.
Also Prof. Ewa Helwich, national consultant in the field of neonatology of the Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw claims that Caesarean childbirth “poses a considerable risk for both the child and its mother."
The Supreme Medical Council indicates that a higher percentage of babies after a C-section suffer from persistent foetal circulation. Moreover, in natural childbirth the gastrointestinal tract and the skin of a child born in a natural birth have natural cultures of bacterial flora because after the labour the baby is put on its mother’s bosom so as to enable the colonisation of skin. This is impossible in the case of C section.
Doctors have also highlighted the fact that in the first hours following a Caesarean section the newborn baby is deprived of its mother’s milk which stimulates the development of the healthy bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract.
For women a C-section means a greater risk of morbidity and mortality, the risk of infections also increases, which means a longer period of hospitalisation than in the case of a natural birth. The Polish Gynaecological Society (PTG), in its recommendations concerning C-section, emphasises the fact that if a pregnant woman is forcing a C-section on the hospital staff, this does not exempt the doctor from his or her responsibility for choosing this method of childbirth.
Medical indications to a Caesarean section
According to PTG’s statement, the indications to a C-section can be grouped into several types. Among them are “planned" indications, known long before the delivery. They prevent natural childbirth, yet do not pose a threat to the life of the mother or the child, (e.g. foetal malposition, non-obstetrical factors i.e. of ophthalmic and orthopaedic nature).
Urgent indications – when there are potential life- and health-threatening factors, but there is no direct life threat, (e.g. foetal malposition during labour pains).
Pressing indications – a direct life threat may occur at any time; and immediate indications – where the life of the mother or the child is in danger, e.g. in the event of umbilical cord prolapse or placental abruption.
The following items are listed among the non-obstetrical indications for C-section: cardiac, pulmonary, ophthalmic, orthopaedic, neurological and psychiatric indications. PTG also explains that a C-section is not a mandatory indication that subsequent pregnancies should be surgically terminated.