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C-Section Rates, or, Vagina is not a Bad Word

June 19, 2007

An article on ABC News today addresses the rising c-section rate, currently at about 30% in the United States, and includes discussion of factors influencing this trend, such as convenience and concerns about liability. Regarding OB/GYNS,

“They’re never faulted for doing a c-section,” said Faith Frieden, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey. “It’s never the wrong decision to do a c-section. No one’s ever going to say to them, ‘why were you so quick to do the cesarean section?‘”

You know, I think it’s okay to question whether major open abdominal surgery was necessary. Really. Says the author,

“There is no question, though, that a c-section is major abdominal surgery. And while the number of women and infants who die during childbirth is very small, studies have found that mothers and babies are more likely to die during or after a cesarean delivery. That may be, in part, due to the condition in which the mother enters the operating room, but it is a sobering statistic, nonetheless.”

One professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and anesthesiology has a particularly telling quote in the article:

You can come in and you can have your baby an hour after you arrived and I can sew you up neat and tidy and you’re all done. Versus, ‘well, let’s wait up to another few weeks for you to go into labor by yourself,” said Dr. Lauren Plante, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and anesthesiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and a critic of the high rate of c-sections.

The comments posted in response to this article are especially disturbing, including among them:
-“I had a c-section after 13 hours of labor. My misconception was that the section would be the easier of the two birthing routes. There is nothing easy about a c-section, and the recovery period is longer and more painful than natural birth.”
-“My story was more than a ten day hospital stay that was expensive. It was a near death experience, it was six months to heal physically. It was having the same “complication” in labor with both of my children – the doctor’s solution was a knife and six months of recovery. The midwife’s solution was to change position and I left the hospital in one day.”
-“I really want to have a VBAC but i is really difficult to have one without fight… and I’m a doctor!
-“my first child was coerced c/section. i was under the wrong impression that c/s were reserved for medical need so when it was brought up to me i took it seriously. never in my worst dreams would i assume we resort to major abdominal surgery for “convenience”. i wasn’t even term yet & was given scare tactics that my baby would die, he was SOOOOO big, etc. he wasn’t going to die, he was perfectly healthy, he wasn’t too big, he was a good sized baby…
-From the same person as above: “i lost her at 37wks spontaneously & for no known reason…as it was “officially” diagnosed she’d passed, i was “allowed” to vbac in the hospital. i asked the nurse point blank why i was allowed to vbac NOW when i wasn’t just a week ago w/ a live baby? her response: “B/c there’s not a baby to sue over”.
-“I have four children, three of which were delivered by VBAC. This is a very unpopular choice which is not well recieved by hospital staff. I am a nurse and decided with the help of my OB to not have repeat c-sections. I went into these procedures well informed, but still found myself defending my decision over and over. My physician even had to explain and defend our decision to the Labor and Delivery nurses on several occasions.”
[Note: These comments have not been edited for spelling/grammar]

Now, on to “vagina” not being a bad word. The comment forum linked above, provided to discuss an article on c-sections and the move away from vaginal birth, is blocking the word “vaginal.” Seriously. Every time some puts “vaginal birth” in a comment, “vaginal” is converted to “####.” I hate to break it to you, ABC News, but “vagina” and “vaginal” are perfectly acceptable and accurate terms to refer to a portion of the female genital anatomy. Perhaps word-blocking systems are in place for all of their comment forums, but “vagina” is not a dirty word, any more than “heart” or “brain” is.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2007 10:04 am

    Isn’t it interesting that it is okay to say “penis” and “penile” on television, but we can’t use the medically correct term for female body parts? As if they were “dirty” or something. Nothing like making women feel nasty for having the “wrong” body parts.

    A new Vagisil commercial treats it the same way – they keep referring to “down there” (in addition to several other problems with it). I took the time to write to the company that makes Vagisil and told them “vagina” and “vaginal” are not dirty words, and that they needed to find some new marketing folks.

  2. June 20, 2007 11:15 am

    Thanks for your comment. I haven’t seen the Vagisil commercial yet, but have read about it. I did find a comments and suggestions form for providing feedback to ABC News – it’s online at


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