Why Most Brazilian Women Get C-Sections

Olga Khazan | The Atlantic | April 14, 2014

In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room.

When Ivana Borges learned she was pregnant, she told her obstetrician that she wanted a natural birth. Her mother had delivered five children without surgery or medication, and Borges wanted to follow her example.

But when she returned to the hospital after her water broke, the same doctor began persuading her that she should instead deliver by caesarean section.

“He told me I wasn’t getting dilated enough,” Borges told me the other day in Recife. “I said, ‘I can wait!’ Then he started joking that I couldn’t handle the pain.”

He pestered her while she labored for six hours, and gradually the then-24-year-old Borges began feeling powerless and overwhelmed. She caved. The C-section commenced, but that wasn’t the end of the doctor’s heckling.