Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cesarean Rate Rises. Again.

So I'm a bit behind in the blogging (what's new?). But I will add my voice to all the others expressing our outrage and grief (though not surprise) that the National cesarean rate for 2006 was reported by the CDC to be 31.1%, a 3% rise from 2005. Given what I see in the stories from just the women who join the ICAN email list, I'm not surprised at all. What with VBAC bans, early inductions and cesarean surgery becoming the "treatment of choice" for suspected macrosomia....I knew the numbers would be bad.

You want to know what's really bad? These numbers are very likely lower than the reality. Why? Well, because some states (Florida is one) exclude "high risk" cesareans from their data -- so if a woman has a cesarean and she was carrying muliples, or the baby was breech or the baby was premature....that doesn't "count". I'm trying to wrap my brain around why this would be a reasonable thing to do....and honestly, the only reason I can come up with is that it keeps the "official" number lower. The argument that these are "necessary and unavoidable" cesareans doesn't make sense to me (and isn't true anyway since all of those pregnancies can end with a vaginal birth)...and excluding breech alone has to raise the cesarean rate by at least 3%...what I am sure has not had any real effect on the numbers are the "patient choice cesareans"....because they really are very rare. You wouldn't know it from the popular press but anytime anyone has tried to get a handle on how many non-medically indicated cesareans are done by maternal request....a very small number is generated. Add to that the fact that most likely, some proportion of hospitals are just plain lying about their cesarean rates (we have a few cases where we know for sure it happens, I'd assume its not limited to those few hospitals) and you get a number that's higher than 31.1%.

So in my state, Michigan, the cesarean rate was 29.8%. About the only good thing I can say about that is that it isn't 37.4%, which is where New Jersey, the state that cuts more women than any other, falls. You know things are getting bad when you see a rate below 25% and want to celebrate (or move to that state). Look up your state -- and then look at the Press Release from ICAN...and then send it to all the media outlets in your area you can find, and to your state and national legislators. Let them know that you are tired of your healthcare and tax dollars being pocketed by the medical and insurance industries, while the U.S. suffers one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the developed world. Let them know that you are tired of women's legal rights to informed consent and refusal being systematically trampled on.

And then, put your money where your mouth is. Join ICAN. If that doesn't appeal, join Lamaze Intl., or CIMS, or Citizens for Midwifery or birthNETWORK or ANY organization that's trying to make a difference.

If you want to get personally involved, email me -- I've got a big project just about ready to launch and I'll need people who are willing to donate time and phone minutes. The problem is huge....but you know what else? If even a quarter of the women who've been through the medical establishment while having a baby got involved....we could make a big difference. So how about it?

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