The fact that Wednesday is 12/12/12 and would – according to many – make an unforgettable birth date has created a frenzy among pregnant women. Instead of three cesarean sections being performed on an average day at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center, 12 will be performed at the request of women scheduled to have the surgery anyway this week.

While Kaplan insisted that it knows of no women who will have a C-section on 12/12/12 who medically could have a normal vaginal birth, it did say that “dozens” of women who have to have a surgical delivery in several weeks and even a month from now asked for a cesarean on 12/12/12, but “we turned them down.”

However, the Rehovot hospital did print up special t-shirts for the women who will have the operations on Wednesday.

Asked how so many women would undergo cesarean deliveries during a crippling strike by nurses, the hospital spokesman said: “We made arrangements.

Operations like cesareans have not be postponed due to the nurses’ sanctions.”

Obstetrics/gynecology department director Prof. Zion Hagai said he received many phone calls of women who wanted to deliver on 12/12/12.

“Our medical staff checked each request carefully regarding the mother and the fetus, and only women who were suitable according to the age of the fetus [and who had to have a C-section in any case] were approved.”

Kaplan said that it doesn’t remember such a rush of requests for delivery for any previous date. It also said that women never ask to deliver babies on a specific date in the Hebrew calendar.

The Jerusalem Post asked the Health Ministry whether – given the fact that abroad, giving birth by cesarean on “special dates” despite the lack of medical reasons for it is common – it would take preventive action so the craze does not occur here.

For example, the ministry was asked if it would send an urgent directive to all obstetrics departments reminding them that cesareans should not be performed unless the patients’ doctors decide it is justified medically. But the ministry said it would not do so, as senior officials did not discuss this option, and that physicians “should know” that ethically, cesareans are not performed if they don’t have to.

Abroad, many obstetricians prefer C-sections to reduce the risk of lawsuits, prefer 9 to 5 hours and scheduled deliveries and realize that many women “fear” pain from vaginal births, even though epidurals can easily handle that. The C-section rate in Israel is lower than in other Western countries, but it also varies drastically within Israel, not only because of varying cultural and religious groups but also due to socioeconomic variations and policies of obstetrics departments.

Unnecessary cesarians not only cost the health system more because hospitalization lasts twice as long and they require a surgeon, anesthesiologist and more nurses, but also because they can cause complications and put a lid on how many more pregnancies a woman can carry.

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