Wealthy women in Brazil are throwing elaborate celebrations around their elective C-sections. But here's why the trend likely won't be popping up in the U.S. anytime soon.

By Maressa Brown
September 20, 2019
Relatives photograph the moment when Mariana Casmalla gave birth to Lorena via C-section, in the Maternity Hospital Albert Einstein on May 24 in São Paulo.
Pétala Lopes for the Washington Post/Getty Images

Roughly one out of every three babies born in the U.S.—or about 1.3 million children each year—are delivered via C-section, according to data released last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the vast majority of C-sections are unplanned. In fact, cesarean deliveries by maternal request only account for 2.5 percent of births in the U.S.

That's just one of many reasons that C-section parties, a Brazilian trend recently covered by The Washington Post, aren't likely to make their way to America. Here's what you need to know.

Why C-section Parties Are Trending in Brazil

Despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released guidelines aimed at reducing the number of elective C-sections around the globe, in Brazil, elective C-sections have long been considered a status symbol. Plus, historically, Brazilian women have feared vaginal birth, given the overwhelmed public health system and inability for health care providers to closely monitor women who are going through hours of labor.

As a result, the country has one of the highest rates of C-sections in the world. According to the country's Public Health Ministry, the operation accounts for  55.5 percent of all deliveries in Brazil and that number balloons to 84 percent when you look at just private hospitals. According to the Post, the Health Ministry calls it an "epidemic" and is taking action to curb those numbers (the government banned medically unnecessary C-sections before 39 weeks).

Nonetheless, the continued prevalence of elective C-sections has lead to wealthy Brazilian families throwing lavish C-section parties.

"C-section parties are something of a fad in Brazil," explains Daniel Levine, a trends expert and keynote speaker. He says they see childbirth as something that can be "made easier with medical science"—aka a predetermined date and time they can lock in on their calendars. Plus, "in Brazil, the rallying cry is often 'any reason for a party!'"

What C-section Parties Entail

The Post story illustrated a recent example of the trend, focusing on 28-year-old Mariana Casmalla's C-section party at the Albert Einstein Maternity Hospital in Sao Paulo. The event involved roses in crystal vases, cakes and chocolates on silver platters, and Casmalla's loved ones waiting behind a frosted window—which turns transparent at the time of the birth—for their first sight of the newborn. Others participated in the party via FaceTime.

Another mom featured in the story named Bruna Viera spent weeks planning her scheduled birth party.

“You feel the tenderness people have for you," she told the Post. "Many moms suffer from postpartum depression and feel isolated. Your hormones are raging. But to be surrounded by the people you love, people who saw you grow up, is extraordinary."

Paula Ascar Baracat, co-founder of Estudio Matre, a party planning service that specializes in maternity wards, shared with the Post that Brazilian moms are increasingly interested in receiving their guests at the hospital as opposed to their homes. “The mom has just given birth, she is learning to breastfeed, she doesn’t want to entertain at home,” Baracat said. “So while she’s getting ready for the birth, we are getting ready to host.”

The planner's clients spend as much as $10,000 for services like floral arrangements, guest books, monogrammed sheets, personalized water bottles, and silver-plated favors for guests.

Will C-section parties catch on in the U.S.?

It's doubtful, according to Levine. "As a trends expert, I don't see this fad moving to other parts of the world," he notes. "This one is uniquely Brazilian. The reasons behind it are cultural and economic and not easily transferable to America or elsewhere."

That's music to the ears of American obstetricians who discourage elective C-sections and prefer to keep the operation an intimate affair. G. Thomas Ruiz, M.D., OB-GYN Lead at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, notes, "At our institution, it is very rare for us to do an elective C-section. We slant our counseling toward vaginal delivery. It's safer, and it's a quicker recovery and a lower complication rate, and there's less pain post-delivery."

While Dr. Ruiz understands new parents appreciating the presence of extended families in the waiting room, American moms probably won't be following in Brazilian moms' footsteps. He concludes, "I just can't imagine having C-section parties."

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