The Real Risk of Being Posh Spice: The Troubles with Having Baby #4 by Cesarean Section
Today, Victoria “Posh” Spice delivered her fourth baby—first girl—by elective cesarean section. Not very note worthy, except for the fact that Posh is often referenced as the icon for the elective c-section movement (along with Brittany Spears). On the other “side” are the famous natural birth (and often home birth) icons such as Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Connelly, Erykah Badu, and Ricki Lake.
Celebrity birth stories are like accidents on a highway: we can’t help ourselves from gawking. Yet, it isn’t real news. Of course that doesn’t keep it from being plastered across TV, newspapers, and the “front page” of some of my favourite internet sites. What has gone almost entirely without mention? The c-section rate in North America is three times what is considered healthy by the World Health Organization; many hospitals and doctors aren’t giving women a choice in how they deliver their babies—mandating c-sections even when vaginal birth would be safer; and that elective c-sections are more dangerous for mothers and babies.
I wish just ONE news outlet would have made the “news” about the Beckham’s new baby about birth choice. And I wish they would use this opportunity to tell women about the increased risk related to C-sections, especially the “feared fourth.” (Many doctors recommend against having any more than 3 cesareans because of increased risk.)
In general, the maternal death rate is less than 0.02% for a C-section. That seems low until one also notes that it is up to four times the maternal death rate associated with vaginal delivery. According to ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Newtwork): One-half of all women who have undergone a cesarean section suffer complications, including increased infertility and miscarriage; and approximately 180 women die annually in the United States from elective repeat cesareans alone. ICAN also notes many studies showing that babies, even those at risk, fare worse when born by cesarean section.
How one delivers her baby is an intimated decision and she, with her family, are the ones to make that decision. However, how can women expect to make healthier decisions when the information on real risks is obscured by flashy headlines about baby names, hospitals that refuse or limit options, and repeated media images and stories that never mention the facts?
ICAN gives these risks for a 3rd C-section:
- Risk of hysterectomy: 0.9%(1 in 111)
- Risk of blood transfusion: 2.26% (1 in 44)
- Risk of placenta accreta: 0.57% (1 in 175)
- Risk of major complications: 7.5% (1 in 13)
- Risk of dense adhesions: 32.2% (1 in 3)
And with a 4th C-section:
- Risk of hysterectomy: 2.41% (1 in 41)
- Risk of blood transfusion: 3.65% (1 in 27)
- Risk of placenta accreta: 2.13% (1 in 47)
- Risk of major complications: 12.5% (1 in 8)
- Risk of dense adhesions: 42.2% (2 in 5)
Get involved creating meaningful and safer options for families:
Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein created the Business of Being Born, MyBestBirth.com, and wrote Your Best Birth to educate families on birth options: now they have the opportunity to create a larger impact and they need support for their independent media project. You can learn more and help .
The Maternal Health Accountability Act (HR 894) would help give funding so that states could start tracking this information. Momsrising.org is pushing for it. Famous midwife Ina May Gaskin has been fighting for years for this. www.inamay.com
Articly by Manda Aufochs Gillespie, The Green Mama.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.