Editorial Response to Minnesota C-Section Rate Article

The following editorial, written by Childbirth Collective president Judith Nylander, was written in response to this article that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in February 2013. We encourage you to read the article first and then read Judith’s thoughtful response. 

A recent article about the C-section rates for Minnesota clinics surely raises questions, but comes as no surprise to most folks working in the birth world.  And while these statistics do not appear to be “solely driven by medical necessity” they are, perhaps, driven by the medical model of childbirth widely practiced in nearly every hospital in Minnesota.  The medical/obstetrical model of birth includes a number of factors that would be worth questioning as we ponder the reason for the high number of first-time mothers who leave the hospital after major abdominal surgery, and with a newborn in their arms.

The cost alone is reason to question these high numbers. But as a birth doula, I think of the early days of a mama’s life, as she does the stressful, remarkable and unforgettable work of caring for a newborn who needs and deserves our complete attention while simultaneously recovering from major abdominal surgery.    Would asking some questions about the model of care really make a difference?

What would some these questions be?  If I was a first-time mother looking for prenatal care for my pregnancy I would ask: What is your rate of induction for first-time mothers? How you deal with mothers who might need 42 full weeks or more before their babies are ready to be born?   How do you understand informed consent and informed refusal?  How do you deal with a mother who wants, or needs, to give birth in a non-traditional position, say on hands & knees?  I would ask questions like this of an obstetrician, a family practice doctor, a certified nurse midwife and a homebirth midwife.  I think the answers would lead you to the care that is appropriate for you and that model of care is likely to be the midwifery model – as long as you are a healthy woman having a healthy pregnancy.

These are the questions that could impact the statistics in the article.  The World Health Organization  states that a C-section rate over 15% is unacceptable.  Let’s ask some questions.

Judith Nylander, CD(DONA)

President, Childbirth Collective

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