Leadership (Abuja)

27 November 2011

Nigeria: Cesarean Operation Fast Replacing Vaginal Child Delivery?

Child delivery for the average woman is seen as a matter of life and death. In the past when orthodox medical practice was not fashionable, the only option for most women was child delivery through the natural process.

Then, a lot of women died as a result of their inability to push the babies out of wombs. But with the advancement in science and technology an alternative means of child delivery called cesarean operation was introduced. Today while many women still prefer the natural means of child delivery, many others however, would settle for selective cesarean operation. Kehinde Ajobiewe writes

For Mrs. Folu Lawal, a 30-year-old mother of three, elective surgery became her only option after she lost her second child during delivery. According to her: "When I was pregnant with my second child, all the scanning I did during my antenatal clinics showed that my baby was lying well only to discover he was not lying properly on the day of delivery. After going through so many pains to push, I lost my baby and I almost lost my life because the doctor was not there on time to help out." Mrs. Lawal decided that in her subsequent child deliveries, she would go for elective surgery.

"When I was due for the delivery of my third child, it was discovered again that my baby was not well positioned and so, cesarean operation was the only option. I got pregnant with my last child knowing that I did not need any soothsayer to tell me to go for an elective surgery", she said.

But in the case of Mrs. Ethel David who was carrying an eight- month-old pregnancy, the story was quite different as she preferred to have all her children through elective surgery or cesarean section rather than suffer the pains that come with natural delivery process.

According to her, "when I told my friends that I would not want to go through the pushing during natural child birth, they thought I was crazy. But I could not imagine myself going through hours of painful labour and that was why I decided to have all my children through cesarean section".

Cesarean sections, also known as C-sections or cesarean deliveries, are performed whenever abnormal conditions complicate labour and vaginal delivery, threatening the life or health of the mother, the baby or both. One of the major reasons why doctors recommend C-section is when an expectant mother is experiencing a difficult labour.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that apart from difficult labour, doctors often advice mothers who have had previous C-section to have it again, and this has become the most common reason all over the world today.

The current trend however, is that many women as a matter of convenience prefer elective surgery to having natural delivery.

While some would say they cannot withstand the terrifying labour pains that are associated with natural delivery, whether by reason of personal experience or by the experience of others, other women would opt for elective cesarean section all in the name of maintaining" a flat tummy" or "tight vagina", as the case may be. And some women also opt for C-section because they feel it is the safest.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY also learnt that a cesarean section cost as much as N100,000 and more in some private hospitals. Most women who prefer C-section feel they can get the best surgery at the private hospitals. It is cheaper in government owned hospitals.

Many pregnant women however, would not even give the cesarean section option a thought during child delivery. Mrs. Eunice Maxwell, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that she prefers to suffer the labor pains that come with natural delivery and forget about it once her baby is out rather than go through the weeks of recovery that comes with cesarean section. "Some people prefer the C-session because they do not want to experience labour pains, and because they are scared. They say the pain is not more than 30 minutes and once you are able to push, that is all. This is my first pregnancy but I prefer to use natural birth instead of going through cesarean session. Because once the baby comes out, you are through with it and by the grace of God I will not experience any complications".

Speaking on why she dreaded C-section, Maxwell said, "when you look at our parents, most of them gave birth naturally and they did not experience any problem. Unlike some women, like one of my colleagues who went through a C-session and up till now she is still having pains, sometimes she would come to the hospital, and sometimes the spot would be bringing out water. If she had a natural birth I don't think she would be suffering like this."

On her part, Mrs. Kehinde Ipinlaye who is almost due for delivery thinks that it is the best thing to experience the pains that accompany natural delivery. "I prefer natural birth to cesarean session, because it is good to have the experience than to pass through operation, if you go through the pains of natural birth, you will be able to train your child well."

A consultant Gynecologist and Medical Director of Bepos Clinic and Maternity, Dr.Emmanuel Ewachie, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that though elective surgery or cesarean section is a matter of the choice of the women that engage in it. It is now more prevalent mainly because of the level of sophistication of some women and for cosmetic reasons. According to him, most women do not want to go through the rigors that their mothers and grandmothers have gone through.

"Some women do not want their vagina to be tampered with so as not to interfere in their sex lives and also, some women go for elective surgery because they want to maintain their flat tummy. They avoid vaginal elasticity which they think can result from the contractions that come with labour", he said.

Speaking on the implications of cesarean section, he said: "It depends on whether the surgery will be done in a private or public hospital. If it is done in a private hospital, the price is as high as N100,000 and above. And you find out that some couples end up blaming themselves for spending their savings on such a thing.

When asked how safe C-section can be and whether he would recommend it to young women, Ewachie said, "It is very easy and safe for both mother and baby. Babies that are delivered through elective surgery tend to be more intelligent than those that come through natural delivery, because they do not use their heads to push during contractions."

On whether cesarean can affect the chances of conception, he said," some women may not be able to conceive after having a C-section due to complications that may arise from having such surgery in an unhealthy environment, but on my part I would recommend it for young women who know the worth".

Another medical expert Dr. Ndukwe Onyenwe however pointed out that in spite of its wide acceptance, C-section could also have its own shortcoming. In his words, "no matter how safe cesarean section might appear to be, it has its own implications ranging from social to economic among others. On the most basic, C-section can be a violation of one's body. If the reason is not a valid one or not explained to the person involved, she can feel betrayed and violated. Aside this, it also affects the finances of those putting their money into it. A C-section is also physically damaging. It is a major abdominal surgery. All cesareans involve a wound across the abdomen and the uterus. There is also risk of damage to organs around the uterus, including the possibility of nicking the bowel. Babies can also suffer accidental cuts from cesarean operation".

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