'Epidemic...' the country where half of first-time mums have cesareans 6 years ago

'Epidemic...' the country where half of first-time mums have cesareans

Globally, births via cesarean are on the up.

For example, three decades ago in Ireland, more than 90 percent of babies were delivered naturally. Now that number has fallen to less than 70 percent, with close-to a third of babies arriving via c-section.

Still, our figures are trumped by Mexico - a country where, it has just been revealed, almost half of all first-time mums have the procedure.

Sylvia Guendelman of the University Of California, Berkeley, and her team used 2014 Mexican birth certs to perform population-level data analyses on more than 600,000 first-time mothers.

And they discovered that 48.7 percent had a c-section to give birth.

"Mexico's continuing transition toward universal health coverage... may help curb the cesarean epidemic," the authors concluded afterwards.


"To do this, the health care system must tackle access barriers to public hospitals..., increase the number of qualified staff members to oversee and support women through the labour process, and educate women about the benefits of vaginal birth."

The WHO recommends a maximum cesarean rate of just 5-15 percent - a rate the likes of The Netherlands, Finland, Iceland and Norway all manage to achieve.

When medically necessary, the procedure undoubtedly saves lives. Yet, concern remains about the high number of low-risk women having the surgery unnecessarily; overall it's still more dangerous than a natural birth.

The Economist recently asked why c-sections were becoming more common. "One explanation is that people are wealthier and more able to pay for surgery," it said in response. "Another is that expectant mothers are often older and heavier than in the past, making birth more complicated."

In the Dominican Republic, the rate of cesareans pushes towards 60 percent. On the other end of the scale, sub-Saharan African countries such as Chad have a rate of less than 2 percent.