If you delivered your baby through birth interventions like a caesarean section, or forceps, or if you were induced, your child is at a high risk of developing long-term health complications, according to new research.
This is in comparison to a child born via a vaginal birth, say researchers at the Western Sydney University.
This groundbreaking study was undertaken by scientists from the Western Sydney University in collaboration with international researchers. They found that children born through medical interventions had a higher risk of developing jaundice and feeding issues.
Here, birth interventions implied caesarean section, forceps and/or use of vacuum for delivery. It also included the use of hormones to kickstart or speed up labour. However, the study did not include use of painkillers or epidural.
How birth interventions are affecting babies
For the purpose of the study, the researchers analysed data from 4,91,590 women and their children. They were all from New South Wales, Australia. The children were then studied for the next five years and the study continued till 2013.
Here’s what they found:
- Infants born through birth interventions using an instrument after induction had “the highest risk of jaundice and feeding problems.”
- Those born by via C-section had a chance of high rates of hypothermia after birth.
- Infants who were born following an emergency C-section had “the highest rates of metabolic disorders in later years.”
- Children born through birth interventions also had higher chances of developing respiratory infections, metabolic disorders and even eczema.
Speaking about the study Professor Hannah Dahlen, from Western Sydney University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery said, “Across the board, the results indicate that the odds of a child developing a short or longer term health problem significantly increase if there was a medical intervention at the time of their birth.”
She added, “The study adds to the mounting scientific evidence which suggests that children born by spontaneous vaginal birth, without commonly used medical and surgical intervention, have fewer health problems.”
“There is a general understanding that medical interventions may interrupt the normal stress of being born and seeding of a healthy microbiome and this can lead to a wide range of diverse health outcomes,” added Professor Dahlen.
“Too little stress (i.e., no labour and cesarean section) and too much stress (induced/augmented labour and instrumental birth) can both have a negative impact,” she said.
However, the researchers were quick to add that the study is not meant to add any pressure on women.
Informed decisions for mums
Professor Dahlen says that the idea was to to ensure expecting mums are able to make an informed decision.
“This is about getting health providers to provide evidence-based care and evidence-based information. So that women can make informed decisions,” Professor Dahlen said.
“Currently in maternity care when we inform women about risk when it comes to intervention we tell them about short-term risks. We are not ever having a conversation about potential long-term risks.”
“It is important that women and their partners have all the information about both short and long-term effects of intervention in order to make truly informed decisions about care,” she further added.
Natural vs. C-section: What will you choose?
While this study is groundbreaking, it cannot really answer the one crucial question: Will natural birth take precedence over birth interventions?
Well, we leave that decision up to you. But as mentioned in our previous article, with benefits ranging from medical to emotional in both the long-term and immediate, natural birth is a preferred option.
No matter what birth method, the health and well-being of the mother and child must always take priority.