Seeing Beyond the 'C' Section
A gynaecologist at a private hospital in the city was shocked when a pregnant mother and her family wanted their baby delivered at exactly 12.01am on New Year’s Day 2015. Knowing the dangers of such forced caesarean deliveries, she refused to conduct the operation and warned the family about the consequences.
“But they consulted another doctor who agreed to do it, and had their baby delivered at the time of their choice,” she says. Doctors in Chennai say they continue to receive an increasing number of such demands from pregnant woman and their families who are oblivious to the danger they could cause to both mother and child. Doctors say reasons for requesting such forced deliveries vary from couples wanting births to coincide with their wedding anniversaries, to wanting children born at an astrologically auspicious time.
“But what they don’t realise is the risk involved with surgery. First, the mother has to be administered anaesthesia. This could lead to breathing difficulties in some cases. Anaesthesia also has other associated risks. The mother also suffers an enormous loss of blood in the caesarean process,” says Dr T Radha Bai Prabhu, president of the Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of Southern India. Doctors say one of the main reasons for such requests is the lack of awareness about the dangers of forced caesarean sections.
“Conducting a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy is not advisable as it would expose the child to the atmosphere before its organs are fully developed. Children delivered prematurely have chances suffering from jaundice and breathing complications,” says Dr Revathy Janakiram, vice-president, south zone, Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI). Such prematurely delivered children also have difficulties in feeding during the initial days. If a mother undergoes a caesarean section, she will have to undergo the same procedure for all her subsequent deliveries.
Since an increasing number of deliveries are conducted as caesarean sections, families think there is no harm in opting for the procedure at a particular date and time. Many of them believe the date and time of birth have an astrological significance which could affect the child’s prosperity. Though the caesarean section procedure is an internationally accepted concept, opting for it is dangerous.
“The scar on the uterus created during a caesarean section poses a risk for subsequent pregnancies. There are chances the uterus will not hold the baby for long. So, surgery should be done immediately to save the mother and baby,” says Dr S Kumudha, former deputy superintendent of the Institute of Child Health, Egmore. “Also, the post surgical injections could clot the blood vessels,” adds Radha Bai Prabhu. Certain people also prefer caesarean sections due to myths. Doctors say some women don’t want to undergo the pain of labour. Some believe the procedure is relatively safer for the mom and child. Many also believe that during a normal delivery, the vagina gets relaxed, resulting in lesser pleasure during intercourse.
Risks Involved in Forced caesarean
1. Administration of anaesthesia brings with it a host of associated risks
2. Excess loss of blood affects her overall health, soon after delivery
For the baby:
1. Higher chances of jaundice and breathing difficulty
2. The underdeveloped organs of the child may sometimes have a life-long adverse health impact
3. Consuming food becomes difficult for the child in the initial days posing a risk of malnutrition