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C-section births in Finland rising

More women in Finland delivered babies via caesarean section last year than ever before.

Ursula Änäkkälän tytär syntyi 5.11.2018.
A baby girl born at Helsinki's Women's Hospital on November 5, 2018. Image: Laura Railamaa
Yle News

Around one in six women have their babies via C-section in Finland.

In 2017, about 17 percent of babies were born via C-section, signalling a slow but steady rise in the rate of surgical births in which doctors remove a baby through an incision made in the mother's lower abdomen.

The surgery can be scheduled or doctors may intervene to perform a rapid C-section delivery should the mother's or baby's life be threatened.

A trend of heavier and older mothers having babies is also pushing up the rate of caesarean deliveries in Finland. Last year 22.5 percent of expectant mothers were older than 35, up from around 13 percent in 1987.

Fear factor

Scheduled C-sections are also becoming more common—a choice some women make after experiencing a difficult vaginal birth.

”Women have always been afraid of giving birth but in the past few years it has become an acceptable reason to request a C-section,” Mika Nuutila, chief physician at Helsinki Women's Hospital told Yle.

C-sections account for a quarter of all births in the United Kingdom, a third in the United States and half of all deliveries in Turkey, Brazil and Egypt. Few women in Finland request to have a planned C-section, according to Nuutila, though it’s not unheard of.

”If there’s no special reason for it, it’s highly unusual for a mother to request it. Finns are still quite natural in their outlook, and most women want a normal delivery,” he explained.

More women in Finland are also opting for epidural pain relief, inserted into the spinal canal, during labour. Today, about half of women giving birth in Finland get an epidural, a significant jump from 10 percent thirty years ago.

Baby bust?

Finland’s fertility rate stands at 1.49 children per woman, but a ratio of 2.1 children is needed to maintain the population size.

In northern Ostrobothnia, for example, the fertility rate in 2010 was 2.4 but fell to 1.83 last year.

In 2017, Finland's birth rate hit a 150-year low, surpassing the dip caused by Finland's famine in 1868.

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