This Doctor Says ‘Fat Vaginas’ Are to Blame for Rising C-Sections & That’s Obviously Not a Thing

This Doctor Says ‘Fat Vaginas’ Are to Blame for Rising C-Sections & That’s Obviously Not a Thing

A fertility doctor is blaming the rising rate of C-sections on “fat tissue in the birth canal.” Here’s what experts have to say about the claim and the real reasons more babies are being born in the OR.

By Maressa Brown

You’ve probably heard it before: C-sections are on the rise, accounting for more than 21% of births globally in 2015, up from just over 12% at the turn of the millennium, according to research from a little over a year ago published in The Lancet. Here in the U.S., about one out of every three babies —or about 1.3 million children—are delivered via C-section per year, according to data released in 2018 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

C-sections might be scheduled in advance for various pregnancy complications, such as breech presentation or maternal high blood pressure. On an emergency basis, they’re performed necessary if the baby is in distress, the labor isn’t progressing normally, or the doctor detects a placenta problem (such as placenta previa). Certain risk factors might increase the odds of having a C-section, including pregnancy with multiples, sexually transmitted infections, and maternal medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or kidney disease.

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But what is actually to blame for ballooning rates? According to a doctor who was interviewed recently on BBC Radio Scotland, older, heavier mothers’ “fat vaginal canals” are the problem. Here’s what you need to know about the eyebrow-raising comments and how obstetricians are responding.

“Fat vaginas” blamed for rising rate of C-sections

According to Grazia, the conversation took place yesterday during the Mornings, With Jackie Brambles show on BBC Radio Scotland. The show was exploring why the U.K. has seen a marked decrease in the number of women who are giving birth without an induction or a caesarean section.

Dr. Marco Gaudoin, who is the medical director at a fertility clinic in the U.K., was asked to explain why older and heavier mothers have higher levels of intervention. He responded, “With obesity, you’ve got increased fat tissue in the birth canal, which makes the birth canal that much narrower, which makes it harder for the baby to squeeze through the birth canal. So you are more likely to end up with what is called an ‘obstructed labor.'”

The comment has been met with international backlash. Milli Hill, author of Give Birth Like a Feminist, was on the radio show, as well, and told Grazia, “It seems to be an example of the woman-blaming culture that can unfortunately be found in the medical profession. Rather than asking, what could we be doing differently to facilitate easier births for women, too often the explanation given for difficult or traumatic births is left at the door of women. We are too old, we are too fat, and our expectations are too high.”

Is there any truth to this claim?

Obstructed labor occurs not as the result of fat tissue in the birth canal, but due to the baby’s position in the birth canal or a mismatch in the size of the birth canal and the size of the baby, consultant obstetrician Dr. Virginia Beckett, spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told The Sun.