Source: Iran Times
Iranian women are increasingly choosing to undergo Caesarian sections as opposed to giving birth naturally even when there are no medical risks associated with their birth.
Agence France Presse quotes medical officials as estimating about 40 percent of children in Iran are born by C-section, but the percentage in the capital is as high as 50 percent and it is greater than 60 percent in some provinces, including Esfahan and Gilan.
"The World Health Organization recommends a Caesarean section rate of 10 to 15 percent," said gynecologist Nasrin Changizi, who heads the mothers' health bureau in the Iranian Health Ministry.
Shirin, 32, is just one of thousands of women in Iran opting to have her baby by Caesarian section, despite the high costs associated with the surgery. The construction company secretary said it was the thought of the pain associated with giving birth naturally and the damage she feared could be inflicted on her body that convinced her to choose the surgery.
"Why shouldn't I enjoy the benefits of science when it is available?" she asked in a Tehran clinic.
The high costs of C-sections haven't proven to be much of a deterrent either. Shirin will spend 15 million rials (about $1,600 dollars) on the procedure and hospital expenses; her health insurance will cover only two million rials (about $215 dollars) of that. The rest will have to come from family savings. "But it's worth it," she said.
Changizi said Iranian women were not generally well-informed about the benefits and risks involved with each form of childbirth, and that an elective C-section potentially had more side effects than having a baby the natural way. She added that many doctors were unwilling to administer natural births because of the long hours and also because fees associated with C-sections are much higher.
Shabnam, a 27-year-old who is due in three months, said she was lucky to find a good doctor who did not look down at her choice of natural birth. "I want a painless delivery but three doctors turned me down politely [for natural childbirth]," she said, adding that one Tehran obstetrician told her that Caesarean-born babies were smarter.
Shabnam's delivery, in which she will have an epidural anesthetic, will cost about the same as a C-section. She has opted to have her baby this way espite the widely held view in Iran that natural childbirth is for poor people who cannot afford C-sections.
Iran prides itself on good family planning and maternal health. Officials say the maternal mortality rate was 24.6 per 100,000 live births in 2005, compared with nine in developed counties and 160 in western Asia.
But responding to huge percentages of Caesarean births carried out when not medically necessary, Tehran hopes to reduce C-section rates to 20 to 25 percent of uncomplicated births by 2013. Health officials have begun offering retraining workshops for obstetricians to promote physiological birth with minimum intervention and without inducing birth.
Iranian officials are also advocating more responsibility and better pay for midwives to monitor women in labor in order to spare doctors from having to spend long hours at their patients' bedsides.
About Iran Times: The Iran Times is an independent newspaper with no affiliation with any political party or faction The Iran Times corporation was founded in Washington D.C. in 1970, in accordance with U.S. federal and local regulations: www.iran-times.com
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