Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America, a new book by Theresa Morris, professor of sociology at Trinity College, examines the exponential increase in the number of cesarean sections, the most technological form of birth that exists today and one fraught with medical complications and negative consequences.
In the tightly written volume, published by New York University Press, Morris challenges most existing explanations for the unprecedented rise in c-section rates, which are physicians practicing defensive medicine; women choosing c-sections for scheduling reasons; and women’s poor health and older ages.
Morris’s explanation is more complicated, taking into account how women are treated by the medical profession, how hospitals are run, and the professional standards in the medical and insurance communities.
She argues that there is a new culture that avoids unpredictable outcomes and instead embraces planning and conservative choices, all in an effort to have “perfect births.”
The book’s conclusions are based on in-depth interviews with women had had just given birth, obstetricians, family physicians, midwives, and nurses, as well as a careful analysis of U.S. c-section rates.
Cut It Out provides a riveting look at an epidemic that greatly affects the lives, health and families of pregnant women in this country.
A member of Trinity’s faculty since 2000, Morris is the mother of two children, the first delivered by c-section and the second by vaginal delivery.
A sampling of what others are saying about the book:
“Engagingly written, rigorously research, and compellingly argued, this book [is] a must-read not only for women’s health advocates and scholars of reproduction, but also for those engaged in health care policy.” – Susan Markens, author of Surrogate Motherhood and The Politics of Reproduction
“By looking at the power structures of the medical, legal, and professional organizations involved, the politics that devalue women, the organizational arrangements and protocols of hospitals, and the professional standards used in medicine and the insurance industry, [Morris] discovers a culture that avoids risk and encourages planning to avoid adverse outcomes. This results in conservative choices in the pursuit of the perfect birth. The author interviewed 130 new mothers, obstetricians, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses and reviewed local and national c-section rates to obtain the data for this study. VERDICT: A useful addition to health sciences and academic library collections.” – Library Journal
“Challenging conventional wisdom, Morris’s interviews reveal that some doctors feel their hands are tied by the legal system, for which a prompt c-section indicates that the hospital has fulfilled its responsibilities to the patient in the event of a lawsuit; hospital policies like constant fetal monitoring, which limits the movement a laboring mother needs to facilitate a vaginal birth, and the requirement that mothers who have already had cesareans cannot have vaginal birth, and medical training that no longer teaches methods of delivering breech or multiple births vaginally…Morris’s powerful book deserves the attention of policymakers.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Theresa Morris calls the c-section epidemic a paradox: doctors don’t like it, women don’t like it, and we know it’s a danger to our health. Yet like a bad habit, we can’t seem to stop doing more and more cesareans. Why? Morris demystifies the paradox in clear, accessible terms: rather than ‘patient choice’ or doctors’ convenience, it is our systems and institutions driving this addictive behavior.” – Jennifer Block, author of Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care