The human body is a remarkable thing. It is (usually) a self-healing system, but its ways remain mysterious, subtle and complex. So when medicine crashes its way in, as sometimes it feels it has to, we don’t always know what the consequences might be.
This has been very well illustrated by a study that has found that women who have their first baby by caesarean section are twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth with their second.
Rates of caesarean section have risen dramatically in the last few years. The researchers say they don’t understand why there has been such an increase, but we can hazard a guess.
It can’t be that women are suddenly unable to give birth naturally, so it must be something to do with a change in medical procedures. In the States, this has been shaped by the billions of dollars from private medical insurance, which is also starting to have an affect in the UK, too. Doctors also run scared from the possibility of malpractice suits, and obstetrics seems to be a discipline rich in potential problems and pitfalls, or so medicine believes.
As a result of these other influences, most caesareans are unnecessary, and are performed for reasons that are not always for the health and wellbeing of the mother or newborn. If women are told that they are twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth next time, perhaps we will see caesareans falling to an acceptable level.
(Source: The Lancet, 2003; 362: 1779-84).