Group to hold rally to reduce C-section rate

When nearly a third of Wichita mothers are having their babies by cesarean section, something is wrong with maternity care and birth practices, says Jessica Vail.

The Derby mom and doula, who is expecting her third child in February, is helping lead a rally in Wichita on Labor Day to call attention to what her group says is a crisis in maternal health care.

“Moms and babies should come first, and right now that isn’t happening,” said Vail, a member of the newly-formed Wichita Birth Alliance. “Now the focus is on profits, convenience and liability concerns.”

The Wichita rally, 10 a.m. to noon Monday at Sedgwick County Park Shelter No. 1, 6501 W. 21st St., is part of an international Rally to Improve Birth scheduled to take place in more than 170 cities in the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada.

The C-section rate in Kansas is 32.8 percent, significantly higher than the 15 percent suggested by the World Health Organization as the highest recommended rate, Vail said. While some point to older, more obese, less healthy mothers as the reason for the higher rates, she added, research shows the trend toward C-sections is most noticeable among low-risk women.

“Nine out of 10 women receive care (during childbirth) that increases rather than decreases the risk of harm” to them and their babies, Vail said – practices such as constant fetal monitoring and mothers being encouraged to labor on their backs.

Among women who have their first baby by C-section, nine out of 10 have a second C-section “just because they don’t know they can have a VBAC,” or vaginal birth after cesarean, Vail said.

For more information about Monday’s rally, visit the Wichita Birth Alliance Facebook page.