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.