In mainstream thought, a mother’s agony during natural birth is an inevitability, but as modern medical procedures increase in China, almost half of the country’s women have opted to skip the lion’s share of pain. Statistics of caesarean sections among Chinese mothers is astounding. A 2010 report from the World Health Organization found that, between October 2007 to May 2008, 46 percent of births were done this way.
Without assuming that this issue demands attention, they are growing worldwide, WHO suggests that there is “no justification for any region to have CS rates higher than 10 to 15 percent.” Their reasoning is basically that, beyond the implications of surgery on the mother, infant mortality rates are higher in children born through C-section—1.77 per 1,000 live births, versus 0.62.
The reasons for the skyrocketing statistics can be contributed to several different rationales. To mothers, the charms of a C-section vary from less pain, less risk, shorter time and less anatomical degradation. “Among all the women I know that gave birth through C-section, I have rarely heard of anyone that did it because they had to,” said one mother, Yin Nuanhong. “They were just afraid of the pain.”
For hospitals and doctors, profit margins can be two or four times higher, ranging from RMB 7,000 to 10,000 per birth. In public hospitals, which are often understaffed, the speedy operation is a matter of efficiency over the average 8-hour vaginal birth.
The one-child policy is also considerable. Many mothers only have one child in their lives and they want, more than anything else, that they be born safely. Therefore, post-surgical risks to the mother matter less.
Last, but not least, some families, especially those of Chinese celebrities, still trust numerology and the fates assigned to the zodiac. In the pursuit of the ideal birthday, and even time, families pick surgery over natural births to protect the child from a lifetime of misfortune.
Contrary to this evidence, the Maternal and Child Health Association of China initiated a program in 2010 to promote natural births. Lasting for five years, the plan calls for opening 10 training centers, setting up a qualification system for midwives to certify 2,000 midwives for placement in at least 100 hospitals nationwide.