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As inductions went up, so did C-sections.

I am a reality show watcher. I love E!, especially. The shows are so bad that they are good. My husband and I (okay, I) love yelling at the screen when people do really stupid things. But over the holidays, I was doing more than yelling. I actually started to cry. The show: Kendra, the spin-off of The Girls Next Door. The problem: they induced her a little early, resulting in a C-section. The entire time I was watching, I was telling at the screen: “Don’t do it! Inductions rarely work! You’re going to end up with a C-section.” Which is exactly what happened.

I’ve written about this before. According to the National Vital Statistics Report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the rate of inductions more than doubled over the past 20 years. It was 9.5 percent in 1990. It was 22.3 percent in 2006. I’ve also recounted the stats that The March of Dimes is trying to get out there: that babies shouldn’t come out until they are ready. Late preterm infants (babies born between 34 and 37 weeks) are:

  • 6 times more likely than full-term infants to die in the first week of life (2.8 per 1,000 vs. 0.5 per 1,000)
  • 3 times more likely to die in the first year of life (7.9 per 1,000 vs. 2.4 per 1,000)
  • Often weigh between 4½ and 6 pounds, and they may appear thinner than full-term babies.
  • Remain at higher risk than full-term babies for newborn health problems, including breathing and feeding problems, difficulties regulating body temperature, and jaundice
  • More than three times as likely to develop cerebral palsy and are slightly more likely to have developmental delays than babies born full term.

But doctors continue to do scheduled inductions and, when those inductions fail, C-sections at 37 weeks. Some just skip the induction entirely and do the C-section from the start at 37, 38, 39 weeks. (And The March of Dimes and researchers says 38 and 39 weekers aren’t a good idea, either. Check out this great March of Dimes feature: Why The Last Weeks Count.)

Right now I’ve got a friend who is pregnant. She was due on January 7. She had a C-section with her first baby. Now she’s trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Amazingly, her doctor is letting her go one week post-date. He knows that most first-time moms are a little late. (And since she never delivered vaginally, as far as her cervix is concerned she’s a first time mom.) I am so impressed with that doctor and with my friend. She’s been done for a while. She’s got a 19-month-old, and running around after him tires her out. But she wants to have a third baby, and she doesn’t want to take on all the risks that a second and third C-section entails. So she’s waiting. And the doctor isn’t pressuring her or pushing her.

I wish Kendra Wilkinson’s doctor was as kind. I wish he let her body do what it needed to do. Yes, her baby was large, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have been able to deliver him. Or maybe he would have been one of the 15 percent of people who the World Health Organization expects will have C-sections. (Yes, that’s right. The WHO recommends that countries set a goal of a 15 percent C-section rate. Sort of stinks that, right now, the U.S. rate is 31 percent.) But she’ll never know, will she? In the meantime, if you’re reading this please think good thoughts for my friend. She’s only got 24 hours before her scheduled C-section.

Are you a mom? How did you deliver your baby? Did you have a choice? Did you ever feel pressure to do one thing over the other? Talk about it below.

5 Responses to “Kendra’s Delivery Protocol: Just Wrong”

  1. Teri says:

    I had a c-section at 39 weeks because my baby was breech. I was so upset, and tried everything to turn him. I really did not want to have him that way. After he was born, I realized that he was not ready, and either was I really. I didn’t look at all like you do before you give birth, and I think we were supposed to go another few weeks, at least. If I get pregnant again, I don’t know what I will do. I may do another c-section because of the horror stories I have heard of VBAC’s resulting in emergency c-sections and the like. I might try to hold out longer though, and make it to at least 40 weeks. I really wish it didn’t turn out this way though, I hate even having to chose. It should be the most natural thing in the world.

  2. MarthaandMe says:

    Thank you for posting about this. I had an induction one week post due date which ended with a c-sec then I had a c-sec one week early with baby #2. Size was an issue with two – both very large babies. Even so, I wish I could have been given longer to get there on my own. I would never induce or do a c-sec early again. Even just one week early my son had fluid in his lungs.

  3. kb says:

    Please don’t beat yourself up about this! Your baby is healthy and here. I never want someone to feel bad after reading one of my posts. My only advice is find yourself a doctor who is willing to let you go to at least 39 weeks, and might be able to discuss with you the real risks of VBAC, which are not as great as you might think.

    Thanks for reading, and congrats again on your baby.

  4. Ana says:

    I too love those silly “reality shows”- but I wish there would have been a midwive there with her or someone who could have helped try to deliver without the induction. As soon as they laid her in that bed- I knew she was in for a c-section. I kept screaming at the TV for her to Walk, walk, walk! Let gravity get that baby out and stay mobile as long as possible. But she does have a modeling career and probably didnt mind the tummy tuck that probably came along with the C-section…

  5. Amanda says:

    I am a new Mom and I had a wonderful home birth with a CNM. It was actually my husbands idea at first, but the more I learned more about birth in the US the more confident I became about my decision to birth on my own terms. I have a BS and have learned to trust in biology without interference. I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy, but because my midwife was associated with a doctor I was able to have the best of both worlds. I ate a healthy diet, exercised and gave birth to my 7lb. daughter in 8 hours. I have learned that birth is not the scary rushed experience that most expect. None of my friends have chosen this route and most have had c-sections. They all have the same story of induction =increased fetal heart rate= c-section. If I had given birth in the hospital I would certainly have had a c-section. My water broke and my labor didn’t start. I took castor oil and bam my labor started and progressed beautifully. I would have been induced in the hospital and I have no doubt that the stress would have made it difficult for me to be as relaxed as I was at home, and would have hindered my progress.
    It’s our bodies and we do have choices. We should not be afraid to give our selves a chance to reach our biological potential and birth when our bodies are ready.

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