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Chinese pregnant woman’s suicide: Vaginal birth or C-sec? Here’s all you need to know

The suicide of a pregnant Chinese woman, who begged for a C-section for hours before committing suicide because she couldn’t bear the pain, has raised many questions. Many women labour for hours but fail to progress, or some complications may develop during labour. Here are some reasons why doctors suggest C-section to women.

more lifestyle Updated: Sep 10, 2017 08:59 IST
Meenakshi Iyer
Meenakshi Iyer
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Pregnancy,C-section,Delivery
For years, the media has depicted images of an ideal birth. A pregnant woman labours for a few hours and with one final push, a beautiful baby is handed to her and she’s all smiles. But the reality is very different from this. (Shutterstock)

Recently, a 26-year-old heavily pregnant woman jumped to death in China. She begged for a C-section for hours but was refused the procedure causing her to take the extreme step. This incident has sparked a debate on everything: From birth rights of an expectant mother to high cost of health care in countries like China. While there is no clear answer for who’s at fault, two lives were lost that day — the baby and the mother.

“If women are adequately supported and offered the many alternative pain management options this should never occur. If women request analgesic pain management, they should be given it. A request for natural birth should be respected equally as a request for a medical birth. Her body, her right,” says Ruth Malik, founder, Birth India, a nonprofit organisation helping women to choose the births they want.

For years, media has created images of an ideal birth. A pregnant woman labours for a few hours and with one final push, a beautiful baby is handed to her and she’s all smiles. But the reality is very different from this.

Many women labour for hours but fail to progress, or some complications may develop during labour. During such times, a C-section is often suggested by doctors. However, these days C-section has become a common practice, even when not warranted. Preliminary studies estimate the rate of Cesarean surgery in India is around 50% in public hospitals and as high as 98% in private hospitals. A woman with a low-risk pregnancy should be allowed to birth vaginally, because all women are equipped to do so.

A C-section is a surgery that is performed when complications crop up during pregnancy that may make vaginal birth difficult, putting the mother or child at risk. Sometimes, C-sections are planned early in pregnancy but may also be performed when complications arise during labour.

Here are some reasons for a C-section delivery:

• The baby has developmental conditions that require a planned C-section.

• The baby’s head cannot fit through the pelvis. This condition is called True Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD). CPD cannot be diagnosed before labour and it is a very rare condition.

• You are giving birth to multiple children. Most doctors recommend a C-section if you are having three or more babies. If you are having twins and wish to have a vaginal birth, look for a caregiver who is experienced with vaginal twin birth.

• When your labour is taking too long. This may not always mean that you will deliver through a C-section, but it depends on how your doctor responds to the situation. If waiting for labour to start won’t harm the baby and the mother, then a vaginal birth is also possible.

• When the baby is lying across the uterus, also known as transverse lie.

• Health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease in the mother-to-be.

• When the mother-to-be has HIV.

• Problems with the placenta like placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine lining) or placenta previa (when the placenta covers the opening in the mother’s cervix).

• A previous high-risk C-section delivery may be a concern as there is an already existing scar on the uterus. And there are chances of it rupturing during labour. However, with the right caregiver, a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-sec) is possible.

• Reduced oxygen supply to the baby due to issues with the umbilical cord.

• True foetal distress. The health of a baby is determined by its heart rate. This is constantly monitored during labour. Depending on the baby’s baseline, high heart rate or low heart rate can be determined.

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First Published: Sep 10, 2017 08:59 IST