Caesarean sections are in some cases performed for reasons other than medical necessity. Reasons for elective caesareans vary, with a key distinction being between hospital or doctor-centric reasons and mother-centric reasons.
Critics of doctor-ordered Caesareans worry that Caesareans are in some cases performed because they are profitable for the hospital, because a quick caesarean is more convenient for an obstetrician than a lengthy vaginal birth, or because it is easier to perform surgery at a scheduled time than to respond to nature's schedule and deliver a baby at an hour that is not predetermined.
In this context, it is worth remembering that many studies have shown that operations performed out-of-hours tend to have more complications (both surgical and anaesthetic). For this reason if a caesarean is anticipated to be likely to be needed for a woman, it may be preferable to perform this electively (or pre-emptively) during daylight operating hours, rather than wait for it to become an emergency with the increased risk of surgical and anaesthetic complications that can follow from emergency surgery.
Another contributing factor for doctor-ordered procedures may be fear of medical malpractice lawsuits. Italian gynaecologyst Enrico Zupi, whose clinic in Rome Mater Dai was under media attention for carrying a record of caesarian sections (90% over total birth), explained: “We shouldn't be blamed. Our approach must be understood. We doctors are often sued for events and complications that cannot be classified as malpractice. So we turn to defensive medicine. We will keep acting this way as long as medical mistakes are not depenalized. We are not martyrs. So if a pregnant woman is facing an even minimum risk, we suggest her to [get a c-section” In contrast to this, a recent study in the British Medical Journal retrospectively analysed a large number of caesarean sections in England and stratified them by social class. Their finding was that Caesarean sections are not more likely in women of higher social class than in women in other classes. While such mother-elected Caesareans do occur, the prevalence of them does not appear to be statistically significant, while a much larger number of women wanting to have a vaginal birth find that the lack of support and medico-legal restrictions led to their Caesarean.
Some 42% of obstetricians blame expectant mothers (among other sources) for the rising caesarean section rates. Studies from Sweden also confirm this..
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011