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Don't blame the mothers

June 02, 2008

Re "Preterm births -- most via C-section -- increase," May 29

The otherwise excellent article on the problem of increasing preterm births linked to Cesarean sections contains the often-repeated myth that women are to blame for requesting unnecessary C-sections.

Yes, several celebrities have had much-publicized C-sections. And yes, most women look forward with normal anxiety to birth. But the only study ("Listening to Mothers") that actually asked women who had recently given birth about unnecessary C-sections found that fewer than 1% would want such a surgery. However, many felt pressured into accepting unwanted interventions during labor and birth. Neither major abdominal surgery to deliver a baby nor "slight" prematurity are benign. The dramatic increase in C-section rates will eventually be exposed as harmful in many ways to both women and babies.

Ellen Catalinotto

New York

The writer is a nurse and midwife.

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