For the month of July, Calcutta Kids’ weekly blog will be on the topic of C-section deliveries, and the challenges of working in maternal and child health during a time when C-sections are becoming the norm.
According to a December 2011 article in the Telegraph, West Bengal “has more Caesarean section deliveries in private hospitals than anywhere else in the country”, and Kolkata has the highest rate at 33.5%. C-sections are convenient for doctors and lucrative for facilities, so doctors are beginning to schedule deliveries regardless of a medical need. Some of the best private hospitals in Kolkata have even removed labor rooms altogether, and only offer the C-section option.
C-section deliveries can lead to serious complications such as hemorrhage, lingering abdominal pain, hernia, blood clots, and long-term effects including a required hysterectomy and even death. C-sections can also impact the child, and can lead to increased incidence of asthma and allergies, as well as possible neurological disorders. In addition, C-sections are expensive and recovery time is often greater than for a vaginal birth. As a public health organization, Calcutta Kids encourages best practices for maternal and child health. This includes safe prenatal care; a vaginal, facility-based delivery (wherever possible); access to comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, and critical health messages given to the new mother and family.
Through this series, readers can learn more about C-section rates in India and West Bengal, decisions made at the facility level, and our difficulty in having an impact in the delivery room. We will also share what Calcutta Kids is trying to do to empower women through birth preparedness, and welcome your comments and suggestions on ways we can address these challenges. -Margy Elliott