Pregnancy and the Psychological Dangers of Prenata Essay

This essay has a total of 1699 words and 8 pages.

Pregnancy and the Psychological Dangers of Prenatal Surgery

For hundreds of years, birth was regarded as a miracle. It was the beginning of a new
life and it was difficult to control, predict, or affect. However, through the scientific
developments of the last 100 years, the miracle of birth has been broken down into an
exact science. The variables of labor have been accounted for, with a number of
procedures designed to protect the mother and the child throughout the pregnancy and birth
in case of an unexpected complication. The procedures are numerous, too numerous to be
thoroughly discussed in only a few pages. Therefore, only a few different procedures can
be discussed here. These procedures will be the more common ones: Cesarean sections,
forceps deliveries, fetal monitoring, and the use of epidurals. The necessity for each of
these procedures will be explained as well as the unavoidable effects and the possible
dangers and side effects. The research that is used to present these points will be in
support of and critical of the procedures. After the research has been presented, I will
enter my own conclusions and opinions concerning the procedures that are discussed, the
validity of the risks involved, and whether or not such risks are worth the rewards.

The use of a cesarean section to forcibly remove a child during labor is a practice that
occurs often throughout the world. The procedure has been documented by the American
Medical Association as a major abdominal surgery. This surgery, when necessary, is a
life-saving technique for the child and the mother. According to the Public Health
Citizen’s Research Group (1996), “there are three main medical causes for
cesareans: non-progressive labor, breech presentation, and fetal distress.” The
American Medical Association (1994) continues “Prolapsed cord (where the cord comes
down before the baby), placenta abruptio (where the placenta separates before the birth),
placenta previa (where the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix), or
cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD, meaning that the head is too large to fit through the
pelvis) can also produce the need for a cesarean section to be performed.” In all
of these cases, if no cesarean is performed, a high probability exists that the child
and/or the mother will die during the labor process. It is because of this possibility
that cesareans are often over-diagnosed and that many women overlook the inherent risks of
a cesarean. According to the Public Health Citizen’s Research Group (1996), 967,000
cesareans were performed in 1989 in the United States alone. The PHCRG goes on to state,
“Cesarean rates quintupled in the United between 1969 and 1989 to 23.8%.”
This is a frightening statistic considering the fact that the World Health Organization
claims, “No region in the world is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than
10 to 15 percent.” Even more distressing is the findings of the PHCRG. They
discovered (1996) “that over one-half of the cesareans performed in the United
States are unnecessary.” Such information is disheartening when coupled with the
statements of the American Medical Association. They state (1994), “Unnecessary
cesarean sections yearly result in 25,00 serious infections, 1.1 million extra hospital
days and a cost of over $1 billion, not to mention the death of about 500 women a year
from bleeding, infections and other complications of cesarean sections.” The high
probability of maternal or fetal death without the help of a cesarean is also responsible
for mothers overlooking other risks and side effects. According to the American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (1997), “A cesarean section poses documented
medical risks to the mother's health, including infections, hemorrhage, transfusion,
injury to other organs, anesthesia complications, psychological complications, and a
maternal mortality two to four times greater than that for a vaginal birth. Furthermore,
an elective cesarean section increases the risk to the infant of premature birth and
respiratory distress syndrome, both of which are associated with multiple complications,
intensive care and burdensome financial costs. Even with mature babies, the absence of
labor increases the risk of breathing problems and other complications.”

Despite the risks of having a cesarean section, all of the researchers concluded that
cesareans are often needed, and must be performed in those cases. To avoid unnecessary
cesareans, suggests, “carefully studying the indications for a
cesarean as well as understanding the causes, procedures, and risks involved.”

Another common medical procedure used during labor is a forceps delivery. A forceps
delivery is a delivery where the head is delivered using the forceps to pull the baby down
on to the mother's perineum, and then withdrawn and the rest of the baby is delivered as
normal. Forceps deliveries are sometimes necessary, according to the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists (1997) .

“They are applied during four different situations. When the baby's head has
engaged, (is lying in the mother's pelvis,) but fails to descend further, when the baby is
in a posterior position or is a breech birth, when the mother becomes too tired to
continue pushing, or the uterus fails to maintain contractions, or with premature babies
so as to protect the delicate skull bones from being compressed in the birth canal.”

The benefits of forceps deliveries are clear. If a forceps delivery is needed and does
not occur, the child and/or the mother will definitely die. However, there are still
major risks involved with such a procedure. According to R.B. Johanson and V. J. Menon
(1999), “forceps delivery often resulted in maternal trauma and required a large
amount of regional and general anesthesia. This risk is a danger that mothers must be
aware of.

It would seem that if the situation presents itself in which a forceps delivery is
necessary, the risks are immaterial in comparison to the alternative. However, there is
another solution that is now available to women that has, according to certain studies
(Johanson and Menon, 1999), “significantly less maternal trauma and with less
general and regional anaesthesia.” This method is a vacuum delivery method.
Unfortunately, there is a trade-in. Johanson and Menon (1999) go on to say that
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