Pre-natal care

04.15.142:24 PM ET

Brazil to Promote Natural Route

Eighty-two percent of Brazilian women are opting for C-Sections, many after hearing of the poor treatment received by women who had natural births.

In Brazil’s private hospitals, 82 percent of babies are delivered by Caesarean section. In public hospitals, the rate is roughly half—why? C-sections are easily scheduled so doctors can perform (and bill) many in a day rather than waiting for nature to take its course. Some women request it too, finding the convenience and sterility empowering. But a study of Brazilian women found the country’s rise in C-sections was driven primarily by unwanted procedures, with women opting for it only after hearing about the poor treatment of mothers who chose natural birth. "When a woman is going to give birth, the first thing many hospitals do is tie her to the bed by putting an IV in her arm, so she can't walk, can't take a bath, can't hug her husband…," said Maria do Carmo Leal, a researcher at the National Public Health School. "What you get is a lot of pain, and a horror of childbirth.” C-sections can be life-saving when medically necessary, but they pose a greater risk of death, blood transfusions, and hysterectomies. To promote natural birth, Brazil is spending $4 billion on a program—cleverly titled The Stork Network—to educate mothers and doctors about the benefits of natural birth.