It’s no secret that maternity costs in India are on the rise. Even so, the out-of-pocket expenditure on maternity has only increased by 2%. How is this happening? Indian maternity trends have given us new perspectives on maternity healthcare costs, pregnancy choices, type of delivery and more. Analysis of data over a five year period gives insights into the trends and preferences in maternity from the year 2013 to the year 2018.
Normal Delivery versus C-Section delivery
A caesarean section (C-section) is often necessary when a vaginal delivery would put the baby or mother at risk. The data shows that out of the total maternity events that occurred during the period of study, 66% were C-section deliveries. No specific trend was observed over five years, and this number has remained more or less static. This busts common myths that tend to point towards the notion that C-section deliveries are becoming more popular with every passing year.
Looking at the statistics for maternity events categorised by age, those below 22 years were found to have a 60% tendency and those in the age bracket of 22-30 years were 63% more likely to go in for a C-section in the 5 year period. On the other side of the spectrum, 72% and 83% of women between 30-40 years and those above the age of 40 years, respectively, went in for C-section deliveries.
Although there is insufficient data to indicate a rising preference for C-section deliveries, the fact that the overall number for C-section is more than double than that for normal deliveries could be attributed to several reasons. Most importantly, C-section is preferred in cases of complications.
Trends in complications
Looking at the overall maternity complications in the five year period, the data indicates that the risk of complications was the lowest for women below the age of 22, at 16%. This was seen to increase significantly to 18%, 24% and to 55% respectively for the age brackets of 22-30, 30-40 and above 40 years. This clearly suggests that the risk for complications increases with age. Comparing with the age-wise break-up of data on C-section deliveries, a direct correlation is observed which can indicate that the spate in C-section deliveries could be attributed to an increase in the chances of complications with age.
There has also been a 9.6% rise in the length of stay in hospitals for incidents with complications. The higher length of stay could be attributed to a battery of tests required for complicated cases, although the reason for the same needs be studied in more detail.
Overall, there was a 26%-28% chance of abortion being the maternity complication, followed by ectopic pregnancy at 7%, in which the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, and oligohydramnios between 3-4%, which is a condition characterized by a deficiency of amniotic fluid.
Maternity Money Matters
Maternity is increasingly becoming a costly healthcare affair. A 24% increase has been observed in the overall cost of maternity. The data also shows that there has been a 22% rise in cost of C-section deliveries. Interestingly, despite this increase in cost, C-section procedures have not shown a dip in five years.
Through 2013-2018, while the average cost of maternity has increased by 24%, out-of-pocket expenses have increased by only 2%. This suggests that maternity coverage has evolved in tandem with rising costs over the period under analysis.
Better Late Than Never: Preference For Deferred Maternity
Are women postponing maternity till they get older? Classifying overall maternity events by age gives insight into this trend. Women between 22 to 30 years made up 68% of overall maternity events in 2017-2018. The number has dropped from 72% from 2013-2014, indicating women in this sample set are increasingly putting pregnancy on hold.
On the other hand, 25% of maternity events in the same year were of women between 30 to 40 years. This is a climb from 21% in the year 2013-2014. Women above the age of 40 increased their share of deliveries from 0.1% to 0.3% in the respective years. The rise in share of maternity events for women between 30-40 years and above 40 years suggests that there is a shift towards maternity at later ages. Meanwhile, maternity events for women below the age of 22 years remained constant at 7% throughout the period of study.
The slide of overall age-wise maternity events is also interesting. Women over 30 years are leaning toward maternity with an increase in 4.4%. At the same time, women between 22 to 30 years are moving away from maternity at a decrease of 4.4% . This identical up and down is interesting but we require more research to understand why the shift has occurred.
There could be many reasons for the shift in maternity preferences. Women today are more aware and more empowered than ever before. The pursuit of academics and flourishing careers, financial independence and ‘late’ marriages, among others, may be the reasons why women are pushing maternity decisions to much later. Also, decisions on parenthood are often taken as a couple, where both partners might wait it out to gain full financial control before making a decision to have and raise children. Additionally, many alternate options like egg freezing, surrogacy and others are available in the country today, which are increasingly being considered when women want to defer pregnancy.
The data for this study was collected from actual statistics received at Medi Assist between 2013-2018. Learn more about maternity trends with this visual representation of the data. While the facts presented provide deep insights into current maternity trends, they can serve as a solid foundation to build upon for detailed studies and further research on the subject.