Seher could not have been happier when she found out that she was pregnant in February 2017. As is often the case with overwhelming news, her delight soon turned to confusion. Is maternity leave enough? Where would she find a nanny she could trust? Breast milk or not? Her mother, mother-in-law and aunts, however, had a question that needed an answer before the baby was born. How would Seher give birth?
Politics of the womb
C-sections and the conundrum of giving birth in India
The steady rise in caesarean deliveries over the past two decades has sparked concerns of doctors pushing women towards surgery. But the reality is far more complex. We chronicle two Indian women’s journeys from pregnancy to birth
Over 40% of deliveries in private hospitals in India are C-sections, up from just under 28% a little over 10 years ago, according to NFHS data
There are many reasons behind the rise of caesareans, including in the increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases and more women opting for surgery
But one often overlooked factor is the inclusion of maternity care in corporate health insurance policies, a trend driven by insurers and third-party administrators from the early 2000s onwards
Two women—Seher and N—in two Indian cities both started out by deciding on natural, or vaginal, birth. Over the course of their pregnancies, where did they end up?