It’s often considered an ordinary part of life, but giving birth is by far the most common reason for hospitalization in Canada.
And caesarean sections are the most frequent surgery performed, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
The same holds true for Red Deer.
The top five inpatient surgeries in 2017-18 across Canada were caesarean sections at 104,349 procedures, followed by knee replacements at 70,215, hip replacements at 58,333, fractures at 55,294, and coronary artery angioplasty at 42,449.
The caesarean section rate in Alberta Health Services’ central zone was similar to the Alberta and national average. The C-section rate was 30 per cent in both the central zone and Alberta as a whole, and 28.8 nationally.
Allan Sinclair, senior operating officer with AHS’s central zone, said Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre does about 800 to 850 C-sections annually.
About a year and a half ago, the hospital opened two dedicated obstetrical operating rooms, with a recovery area located within the obstetrics unit. Previously, women were wheeled down to general operating rooms in another part of the hospital.
“It’s a real advantage for us in terms of quality and patient care to have that obstetrical operating rooms available right next door,” Sinclair said.
“We were well overdue for getting it. We’re really pleased we got that service.”
He said new mothers no longer have to be rushed out to make way for other surgery patients.
“Now we have an opportunity for the family to spend time with the baby and bond in the recovery room, which is right next to the obstetrics OR. That family-orientated care is really key.”
CIHI data showed across Canada that giving birth accounted for 362,700 hospital stays, followed by 93,353 stays for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis, 71,192 for heart attacks, 70,149 for pneumonia, and 68,972 for heart failure.
Giving birth was also the No. 1 reason for hospitalizations at the Red Deer hospital, with 2,676 cases in 2018-19.
The next most common reason for hospitalization in Red Deer was knee replacement, followed by COPD, depression and a range of orthopedic fractures.
Sinclair said the number of births has declined slightly in recent years.
“It is in line with the economic downturn in the area. We would expect that would be most likely related to options for family planning, to not have a baby when there’s maybe some uncertainty in the marketplace for spousal employment.”
He said Red Deer is in good shape when it comes to family doctors who will deliver babies. The trend across Canada is the opposite.
“Our obstetrics program is very well stocked. We’ve still got well over 30 family practitioners who are doing obstetrics, which is great. We’ve got eight full-time obstetricians.”
There are also about seven midwives serving the Red Deer region, he said.