First, continuing our discussion of the ethics of refusing to perform elective c-sections, I came across this comment from an Australian physician who argues that that doing an ECS to stave "save the vagina" or "prevent urinary incontinence" is not a valid reason. She argues that an ECS is like a healthy weight woman requesting gastric bypass surgery to prevent future obesity. From the article Caesarean beliefs "misguided" from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Next, an article in the Arizona Republic discussing how C-sections are linked to future birth risks. The article focuses on one worrisome trend due to the rapid rise of c-sections: placenta accreta. Once something that was an obstetrical rarity (1 in 30,000 in the 1950s when the c-section rate was in the low single digits), accreta now is as high as 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 500. The article also stresses the relative safety of VBAC, emphasizing that as many as 90% of women with a previous c-section are candidates for a VBAC.
WOMEN who choose to have an elective caesarean in the belief that it will prevent incontinence and genital prolapse are "misguided" and may be putting their health, and that of their baby, at unnecessary risk.
That is the view of Jenny King, a urogynaecologist at Westmead Hospital, who questions the right of women to choose surgical births to avoid pelvic floor problems.
Evidence is mounting that repeat caesareans cause harm and there are doubts that they provide the protection they were thought to provide, she said.
Dr King will present the findings of a review of about 9000 births at Westmead Hospital in 2004 at the annual scientific meeting of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Auckland on Sunday.
She projected that surgical birth could prevent 35 per cent of urinary incontinence in women under 50, but the method of delivery made minimal difference to pelvic dysfunction later in life.
"Incontinence is an emotional issue, but I looked at the data and you have got more chance of losing a baby from the complications of a caesarean section than getting incontinence problems," she said.
"If a young woman of healthy weight asked a gastric surgeon for lap-band surgery to prevent the possibility of becoming obese later in life, surely no one would agree to that.
"So why does a pregnant woman have the right to surgery she doesn't need?"
Women who have a caesarean are at much greater risk of a ruptured uterus, hysterectomy or infection. And their babies are more likely to be born premature, have serious breathing problems or need intensive care.
I've posted about this before, but I wanted to remind readers of this recent study about Maternal Morbidity Associated With Multiple Repeat Cesarean Deliveries. Not surprisingly, it found that cesareans become progressively more dangerous for the mother. I bolded the parts relating to placenta accreta. It seems the 60% statistic from the previous article comes from women with two previous c-sections who also have placenta previa. Here's the abstract:
Studies and textbooks suggest that the risk of developing an accreta is as high as 4 percent in women who have had two previous Cesareans; that jumps to 60 percent with three C-sections, their physicians said.
And while Valley hospitals can't say exactly how many women they are seeing with the complication, those that traditionally deliver the most babies say it's a trend they're watching.
Earlier this year, St. Joseph's saw three women with the condition in one week, Chambliss said.
"In the 1950s, the incidence was something like 1 in 30,000 women," Mills said, adding that newer studies, conducted within the last decade, suggest that the rate has climbed to as high as 1 in 2,500 or even 1 in 500.
"So there is definitely an increase in occurrence," he said. "And in women with C-sections, that's where we've really seen an explosion."
OBJECTIVE: Although repeat cesarean deliveries often are associated with serious morbidity, they account for only a portion of abdominal deliveries and are overlooked when evaluating morbidity. Our objective was to estimate the magnitude of increased maternal morbidity associated with increasing number of cesarean deliveries.Thanks to Unnecessarean and Birth Faith for the links!
METHODS: Prospective observational cohort of 30,132 women who had cesarean delivery without labor in 19 academic centers over 4 years (1999–2002).
RESULTS: There were 6,201 first (primary), 15,808 second, 6,324 third, 1,452 fourth, 258 fifth, and 89 sixth or more cesarean deliveries. The risks of placenta accreta, cystotomy, bowel injury, ureteral injury, and ileus, the need for postoperative ventilation, intensive care unit admission, hysterectomy, and blood transfusion requiring 4 or more units, and the duration of operative time and hospital stay significantly increased with increasing number of cesarean deliveries. Placenta accreta was present in 15 (0.24%), 49 (0.31%), 36 (0.57%), 31 (2.13%), 6 (2.33%), and 6 (6.74%) women undergoing their first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth or more cesarean deliveries, respectively. Hysterectomy was required in 40 (0.65%) first, 67 (0.42%) second, 57 (0.90%) third, 35 (2.41%) fourth, 9 (3.49%) fifth, and 8 (8.99%) sixth or more cesarean deliveries. In the 723 women with previa, the risk for placenta accreta was 3%, 11%, 40%, 61%, and 67% for first, second, third, fourth, and fifth or more repeat cesarean deliveries, respectively.CONCLUSION: Because serious maternal morbidity increases progressively with increasing number of cesarean deliveries, the number of intended pregnancies should be considered during counseling regarding elective repeat cesarean operation versus a trial of labor and when debating the merits of elective primary cesarean delivery.