More than half of all babies born in Brazil are born via cesarean section. That number jumps to 82 percent for women with private health insurance. But that trend may be turning, as Brazilian mothers fight for natural births in a country with one of the highest cesarean rates in the world.
As patients in doctors' offices and street protestors go against the pressure to have these surgical births, the federal government is investing billions of dollars into a natural childbirth campaign, which includes the building of hospitals devoted to maternal care, reports Fox News Latino.
"We need to have a serious discussion in this country to see what can be done to change this culture," Olimpio Moraes Filho, one of the hed doctros with the Brazilian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Associated Press. "Women are starting to rebel, and they should."
The reasons behind Brazil's high rates of cesarean section delivery are many. First, a longstanding inerventionist approach to vaginal births made them more painful and stressful, thus C-sections garnered a reputation for being predictable and safe.
The country's birth statistics are troubling to many, including Maria do Carmo Leal, a researcher at the National Public Health School at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. She is analyzing a survey of 24,000 birthing mothers across the country and said the high C-Section rate reflects an extreme manifestation of a medical culture that treats delivery as a health problem and not as a natural process.
"Here, when a woman is going to give birth, even natural birth, the first thing many hospitals do is tie her to the bed by putting an IV in her arm, so she can't walk, can't take a bath, can't hug her husband. The use of drugs to accelerate contractions is very common, as are episiotomies," she said to the Associated Press. "What you get is a lot of pain, and a horror of childbirth. This makes a cesarean a dream for many women."
Now, the country is taking note -- and trying to change the culture.
"We're making a big effort now, offering good prenatal care, a place women trust, information that's pertinent, so women can make their decision," said National Health Care Secretary Helvecio Magalhaes. "We're creating incentives for natural birth."
What do you think of this push for natural birth? Should mothers have more of a say in how they deliver their baby?