In the wake of rising Caesarean sections across many countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advocated choosing surgical deliveries only when medically indicated. Unwarranted caesarean sections put women and their babies at risk of short and long-term health problems, said the statement.
An ideal rate for caesarean sections should be between 10 and 15% of all deliveries, according to the international healthcare community. In Mumbai, HT spoke to various public and private hospitals and found that surgical deliveries are anywhere between 22% and 35%.
Not just urban areas, but even rural facilities are opting for more Caesarean sections, studies show.
Patient rights activists have claimed that the higher remuneration for C-sections have made them more popular among doctors. Experts said medical practitioners find performing a C-section convenient, compared with a vaginal birth that involves long hours in labour.
But doctors say this is not true. “Advancement in technology has helped detect foetal distress and other conditions that demand a timely caesarean section. The common notion that doctors earn more money by performing a caesarean section is incorrect,” said Dr YS Nandanwar, head of gynaecology department at the civic Sion Hospital, which performs most deliveries in Mumbai.
At this hospital where services are free, the C Sections rate is about 35%.
Sometimes, it is the parents who request a surgical delivery, said doctors. Parents request for auspicious timings and dates for child birth, which is another contributing factor for rise in C-sections.
“Requests for specific dates are common throughout the year,” said Dr Nikhil Datar, senior gynaecologist.
Doctors also said that the fear of a malpractice suit discourages many from opting for vaginal deliveries, which are challenging medically.
“In the prevailing atmosphere of litigation, doctors tend to be overcautious,” said, Dr Aparna Hegde, founder, chairperson and managing trustee, Armaan Foundation, a group promoting mother and child health.