New Delhi: Over the last decade, there has been an alarming rise in the caesarean deliveries in India. The private hospitals, especially, have shown a significant increase as oppose to the public hospitals that registered a dip in the number of caesarean deliveries.
According to National Family Health Survery-4, the private hospitals saw 40.9 per cent of caesarean surgeries in 2015-16 as compared to 27.7 per cent in the last decade (2005-06). In the public hospitals, however, 11.9 per cent caesarean deliveries took place in 2015-16, a decline from 15.2 per cent in 2005-06.
Earlier, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi also expressed concern over the rising caeasarean deliveries in the country.
In a letter to Health Minister J P Nadda, Ms Gandhi wrote that it should be made mandatory for the hospitals to display their rate of Caesarean sections against normal for child deliveries every month.
She also wrote that doctors who carry out caesarean operations without a valid medical reason must be named and shamed. Her remarks have created a furore in the medical fraternity.
“No doctor enters the medical practice to indulge in malpractices. There are some bad apples but urban women are increasingly seeking a pain-free birthing process,” says Dr Kaberi Banerjee, a gynecologist based in New Delhi.
Delhi-based gynaecologist Dr Rinku Sengupta says that there are many reasons that can explain the rise in C-sections. “Some women want to avoid labour pain, some tell their doctors that they do not want any risk to the baby and pressurize them to perform caesarean sections. Then there are some who want an auspicious time of birth for their baby and all this reflects that they are not aware and educated about the health risks involved,” she said.
A cesarean procedure is an invasive procedure, one that requires hospitalization for a few days after delivery. In a natural/vaginal birth, however, a mother can go home as early as the next day.
She adds, “The couple is taken through all these risks during the antenatal classes so that they can make an informed choice.”
Sitaram Bhartiya Institute of Science and Research in Delhi is amongst the few hospitals which is transparent about displaying caesarean delivery figures.
On their website’s homepage, the hospital has a detailed display of antenatal classes that aims to educate couples on diet, normal delivery and prepare them for parenthood. To maintain transparency, they also display caesarean rates and delivery charges.
Abhishek Bhartia, the director of the hospital, says, “In 2001, the caesarean rate in our hospital was 79 per cent. With coordinated efforts from our maternity team, in 2016, we achieved a 12 per cent caesarean rate.”
“With a low caesarean rate, we had to incur a revenue loss, but we are glad in doing the right thing for our patients,” he added.
For Mareena Scaria and her husband Tom, the news of pregnancy brought a lot of joy. However, it soon turned out to be stressful.
Ms Scaria’s gynaecologist had put her on a strict diet and suggested a restricted lifestyle. This, the couple says, led to a gap in their understanding of antenatal care. After many recommendations and hours of online research, the couple decided to go to Sitaram Bhartiya Hospital.
She says, “I had heard that this hospital understands a mother’s need and encourages natural birth. I did not want a C-section unless there was a complication.”
For soon-to-be parents, the couple advises, “It is important for your doctors and nurses to not just understand your needs but also to steer you in the right direction.”
As per the norms by the World Health Organisation, C-section deliveries should ideally be 10-15 per cent of the total number of deliveries in the country.