C-Sections and the Chinese Figure

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Cesarean Section and the Chinese Figure

As noted in Shanghai's that's magazine under the hip title "Too Posh to Push," the Shanghai Women's Health Institute recently reported that nearly two-thirds of local registered pregnant women now deliver their babies via Cesarean section (more than twice as frequently as in the United States).

c-section in china

Infant health concerns, pain aversion, and "fears about the mother's figure" were cited as the primary factors driving these numbers.

APSG Comment: The World Health Organization, which suggests a reasonable C-section rate of around 15%, characterizes this Chinese trend as having reached "epidemic proportions" surpassing even the West.

Worries about baby health issues don't get anywhere near mandating such a high rate of riskier surgery, and pain control with epidural spinal anesthesia during labor makes the whole process bearable.

So, what's up with this study? Does it really point to cosmetic issues as the main driver behind this rapid escalation?

If it does, then which part of the female "figure" are all these Chinese mothers so worried about? The act of growing a baby to fruition stretches out the abdominal wall and later nursing of the infant may affect the breasts, but this simply goes along with having a child, C-section or not.

And yes, normal delivery can stretch out the vagina while also stressing various anatomic connections inside of the pelvis. But decreased vaginal tone is not generally encompassed by the term "figure," while surgical scars and incisional hernias certainly are.

Here's a more likely consideration that could very well explain these numbers. In China, doctors are paid based on the monetary value of treatment rendered, and an elective C-section costs about 3 1/2 times the price of a 3 A.M. vaginal delivery. Might this disparity pose a strong incentive for obstetricians to persuade expectant mothers to opt for a more expensive and invasive delivery option?

Go figure.

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Cesarean section surgery in China