“Repeat Caesareans Becoming Harder to Avoid”

“Women around the country are finding that more and more hospitals that once allowed vaginal birth after Caesarean, or VBAC (commonly pronounced VEE-back), are now banning it and insisting on repeat Caesareans. About 300,000 women a year have repeat Caesareans. The rate of vaginal births in women who have had Caesareans has fallen by more than half, from 28.3 percent in 1996 to 10.6 percent in 2003. …

“On a practical level, many women prefer vaginal birth because they recover more quickly and with less pain than they do from a Caesarean. In addition, each Caesarean increases the risk of complications in the next pregnancy, so women who want more than two or three children often hope to avoid the operation.

“Some doctors and hospitals freely acknowledge that fear of being sued has driven their decisions. Hospitals say they cannot comply with guidelines issued in 1999 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which call for a doctor to be available ‘immediately’ throughout active labor during such a birth, to perform an emergency Caesarean if needed. Previous guidelines had called for them to be ‘readily’ available.” (Denise Grady, New York Times, Nov. 29)(via Lone Star Times). We covered the issue Jul. 18, 2003.

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