The crisis of medicalised childbirth

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that “Rates of caesarean section in many countries have increased beyond the recommended level of 15%, almost doubling in the last decade, especially in high-income areas such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, North America and the UK. Similar trends have also been documented in low-income countries such as Brazil, China and India, especially for births in private hospitals.”

In the USA, caesarean sections are at an all-time high of 31 percent and according to Amnesty International “more than one-third of all women (1.7 million) who give birth in the United States experience some type of complication that has an adverse effect on their health”. The USA spends more than any other country on health care, with hospitalisation related to pregnancy and childbirth costing $86 billion a year. However women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries.

As Amnesty International said of its report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, “This is not just a public health emergency – it is a human rights crisis”.

A study on caesareans in China by the World Health Organization noted the existence of “performance-related incentives for staff in some hospitals, depending on the number of procedures and the revenue that physicians generate for their hospitals”.

Liberty & Humanity

Photo by Stephen Andrews