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Late Pregnancy Results In More Caesareans

Jul 12, 2008
With all the interest in women's equality issues over recent years, more and more women are choosing to have a career and put off having a baby until later life. Morally, there is nothing wrong with this. Older women come with a wealth of life experience and often a calmer outlook on life. However, mother nature did not smile kindly on women when it came to the reproduction process and we have a few short years where everything is easier and simpler to have a baby, from a physical perspective.

A pregnancy in later life is harder to come by because women's fertility decreases quite sharply after the age of thirty. There is also the issue of the baby having physical defects if born to a mother who is advancing in years. Of course, with the advent of IVF, there is no need for a woman to be barren through physical imperfections and, indeed, many older mothers have made the press recently and we are seeing women in their fifties, sixties and beyond giving birth. But this raises ethical and moral questions that stretch way beyond the boundaries of this one article.

What is a known fact in the medical world is that the more middle-aged pregnancies that occur, the higher the rate of Caesareans. Researchers have found that four out of ten Caesareans in first time mothers could be avoided if the births took place in women that were in their twenties or thirties. This is because older women are less physically able to give birth naturally due to the womb tissue finding it more difficult to contract.

Caesareans are, at times, absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of the mother and baby. There has been much made in the press of celebrities that are 'too posh to push' but nobody knows the physical constraints of these people that lead them to a less natural childbirth. However, no Caesarean is without risk to mother and baby and the more there are, statistically, the more complications that are likely to arise. It has also been noted that the possibility of a mother passing away during childbirth is five per cent higher in those that have Caesareans.

The study that shows the increase was conducted over a twenty five year period and it was found the average age of a first time mother greatly increased during that time. More alarmingly, the amount of first time pregnancies for women over the age of forty increased tenfold and for those between 35 and 40, the increase was seven fold. That means, over that period, 16, 548 more Caesareans were carried out than would have been carried out had statistics stayed the same as at the beginning of the study.

Now this could be due to more women choosing the career path first, it could be due to the wider availability of IVF treatment or it could simply be a trend that would have occurred without the above factors coming into play.

Caesareans account for 23 per cent of all births which is twice the limit recommended by the World Health Organisation. On top of these figures there are a great deal of mothers requiring assisted births with the use of forceps or ventouse. All of this medical intervention adds stress to the mother and baby, can cause complications and takes longer to recover from than a natural birth. This leaves less than half of all pregnancies resulting in a natural birth.

The World Health Organisation recommend that Caesareans are best left for emergency situations only.
About the Author
Childcare expert Catherine Harvey looks at the incidents of more older first time mothers experiencing Caesarean sections instead of natural childbirth.
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