Did you know that we are facing a global cesarean section crisis? The overuse of cesarean sections, especially in the United States, is not new, but it has continued to become more prevalent here and globally over the past 15 years. At the same time, in many countries, women do not have access to cesareans even when they are medically necessary. These wide variations between countries and even between regions in the same country tell us that something is very wrong.
Joining me in this episode is a guest I'm so excited to bring to you – Dr. Marleen Temmerman. A Belgian obstetrician/gynecologist and a world leader in women's reproductive rights, Dr. Temmerman has served as a Senator for the Belgian parliament, director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research for the World Health Organization, and is the founding director of the International Centre of Reproductive Health at Ghent University. After retiring from the WHO, she moved to Kenya where she is now with the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, and Director of their Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health.
Warm, compassionate, and a mom herself who experienced pregnancy losses, IVF and was then told she should have a cesarean section, a story she shares with us in this episode, Dr. Temmerman brings tremendous caring to the important work she does. Most recently, she has played a pivotal role in bringing attention to the overuse and under-access of cesarean sections to the obstetrics world internationally as senior author on a series of focus articles on the cesarean crisis published in the October 2018 issue of The Lancet, one of the world's oldest and most respected medical journals, and presentation of her team's findings at FIGO, the largest international obstetrics conference.
Listen in as we talk about the dual problem of both the overuse and under-access of cesarean sections for women around the world, and the impact of both of these on women’s health and safety. I know you'll be as moved and inspired as I am hearing Dr. Temmerman's story story and important research findings.
In this episode we discuss:
- The why's behind the overuse and increase of cesareans
- Misconceptions about cesarean sections, natural births, and breeches
- The importance and role of midwives and why every birthing person needs one
- The various impacts and long-term effects of cesareans on babies
- Tools available to reduce the number of cesarean sections
- The ways women can advocate for themselves during childbirth and prevent unnecessary cesareans
Who is contributing to the increase in cesarean sections? Basically, it is the gynecologists who hold the knife. – Dr. Marleen Temmerman
Links and Resources
- Learn more about Marleen Temmerman
- Learn more about the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya
- Read The Lancet articles on cesarean section rates (free access)
- Listen to my podcast episode where you can Meet the OB Speaking Out on the US Cesarean Section Rate