After nine months of pregnancy, it's time for the baby to come into the world. But the delivery is a huge last hurdle that may be the most risky part of the entire experience. After all that time trying to eat right and avoid things that could harm the baby, it can be stressful to know that the baby might be harmed on his way out.
Luckily, doctors have devised a surgery that could save lives if a natural delivery is unsafe for a mom and her baby. Cesarean sections date back at least 500 years, and possibly to the time of Caesar. But many women believe that the surgery is used too often, and it might bring more harm to them than good. In the United States, about a third of moms give birth via C-section, and some believe that people shouldn't be so quick to resort to surgery. They are risky procedures that could impact the baby's breathing, and the postpartum recovery is tougher on the mom. Some women don't want to go through the procedure because they are scared of the knife and others worry about the scar.
But there are major health reasons that make a C-section the only safe option. For example, a baby born naturally to a mom with an infection could have major health risks, including blindness or even fatality. There are placenta issues, and mom's and baby's health could make it a bad idea to go through the stress of labor and a natural delivery. We understand the pros and the cons, and we want moms-to-be to know all the facts before they decide.
Here are 10 reasons moms are against C-sections and 10 reasons they are important.
20 Against: Concern For The Baby's Health
The truth is that mothers' first priority in all the decisions they make is the health of the baby.
After nine months of pregnancy, moms just want their baby to be born healthy, and that's why the biggest reason that moms are against C-sections is because they fear that it isn't the healthiest option for the baby.
There is some truth to the fact that babies born naturally can be healthier than Cesarean babies, but that may be that the baby had an underlying issue that caused the need for the surgery, not because the surgery was responsible for the problems. For some children, the concerns have to be weighed out, but that doesn't stop a mom from worrying that the C-section could harm the baby.
Recent research has discovered some healthy pros to giving birth naturally, including the fact that babies are exposed to healthy bacteria when they go through the birth canal that could help with their gut health and overall immunity. The process of birth is also known to squeeze fluid from the lungs. But there is always a reason that a doctor suggests a C-section, and it usually means that the risks to the baby do not compare to the risks to going through a natural delivery.
19 Against: Fear Of Surgery
While C-sections are so common these days that about a third of mothers have them, that doesn't mean that they aren't scary.
Having a Cesarean means going through major surgery, and that can be a major deal for a woman.
It's perfectly understandable for a woman to be against having a C-section because she's afraid of the knife, but we hope that the mom can get over it when it's the best option for a healthy delivery.
Even for women who totally trust their doctor and are certain that the C-section is the right choice for their health and the baby's, going into the surgery is very scary. Every surgery has risks — it involves cutting the body, and things could go wrong. In the case of a C-section, the woman's life isn't the only one that she is concerned about; she also worries about the baby. While most C-sections don't involve general anesthesia, an epidural is required, and that can be a pretty daunting process as well. Tomophobia is a fear of surgery, and it's pretty common. Doctors recommend relaxation breathing and focusing on the happy ending to try to get through. Moms just need to remember that at the end of it all, there will be a healthy baby in the world.
18 Against: Worry For Repeating The Process
Once a woman has a C-section, there is a big fear that all of her babies will have to be born that way. It's like the options are taken away before the babies are even conceived, and that can be a big issue for some women. That can be really difficult because surgery may be the best option for one baby, but the next one might not have the same situation and it could be just fine with a natural delivery.
Repeat C-sections in and of themselves are dangerous, and it might limit the number of children a woman can have safely — but the truth is that number is well beyond the average size of most families so that may not be a big concern unless the woman is hoping for a very big family.
There are a lot of doctors who still believe that natural deliveries after Cesarean are dangerous. But there are some — and many midwives — who think that it is possible for a woman to attempt a natural birth with the next baby. Tearing at the incision point is a possibility, but it's a smaller risk these days. But there are some of the risk factors for women that can persist in subsequent pregnancies. According to American Pregnancy, research studies show that 60 to 80 percent of women can successfully give birth naturally after a C-section. It can be harder to get a doctor to agree to it, but if a woman wants to try — and she keeps in mind that she might end up in surgery if an emergency occurs — it's entirely possible to go through labor the second time around.
17 Against: Impersonal Clinical Experience
Having a baby isn't exactly an experience that could be considered ideal. Natural births are painful and messy and exhausting, but a lot of women relish the idea of going through them. It's not because they are looking forward to the pain, but they feel that it's a rite of passage for a mom to go through.
Natural birth is raw and scary, but it's also real, and it can prepare a woman for becoming a mother. On the other hand, C-sections can feel very clinical, and that isn't what a woman wants when she meets her child.
There is a reason, obviously, for the way that C-sections are handled. They happen in a sterile environment because that can reduce the risk of an infection passing to the mom or the baby. The doctors and nurses wear masks and the mom has to be in a hospital gown while her partner is wearing scrubs. The mom is awake, but the doctors put up a drape so that she doesn't have to see the surgery, and a lot of women don't like that their view of the baby is obscured. But many hospitals have created protocols called family-centered C-sections. They still include masks and gloves and scrubs, but doctors use clear drapes or remove them, so that a woman can see her baby right after the birth. They also allow the mom and dad to have a chance to hold the baby right away. It's an attempt to take away the concern that C-sections are too impersonal for an occasion as intimate as the birth of a baby.
16 Against: The Scar
Women these days have taken to sharing real postpartum photos. That means they are giving people a peek at how hard it can be to lose the baby bump after the birth. A lot of times, the sweet baby is part of the picture, and there is a note about the sacrifices a woman makes for her child. These social media posts share the good, the bad and the ugly — and for C-section moms, that can mean showing a scar that some women worry will never heal. It's a real worry for some women, especially those who enjoy wearing bikinis or midriff shirts. They worry that their scar could change everything.
The truth is that most C-section scars are visible for the rest of a woman's life, but they are really low on the abdomen, so most never see the light of day.
The classic C-section cuts of past decades aren't used very often anymore, so very few women have to worry about a vertical incision from their belly button to their pubic hair line. According to What to Expect, 95 percent of C-sections have a small horizontal incision around the bikini line. While the incision into the uterus involves dissolvable stitches, the external incision can be closed with staples, stitches or surgical glue. A woman is going to have to take care of the area for a number of weeks to make sure it stays clean and doesn't get infected, and there are some special creams that some people try to use to reduce the scar. For women who are truly bothered by their scar, steroids injections might reduce the visibility and there are laser treatments that can help. But these days many women are choosing to go another route. They consider their scar to be a badge of honor — a visible reminder of what they went through to become a mom. Even though they may fear the scar going into surgery, we love it when a woman embraces her scar as a source of pride in giving birth to her little angel.
15 Against: Postpartum Pain
Labor and delivery can be incredibly painful, and women are aware of that. They learn through stories from their friends, as well as in movies and television shows, which do a lot to over-dramatize the situation for ratings. But what they don't show is the pain that happens after the birth. As much as it hurts to get the baby out, it can hurt even more to recover afterward, whether the baby was born naturally or via Cesarean. In fact, the recovery from a C-section can be even harder.
Part of the recovery is from the epidural, which can be an issue for women who give birth naturally too. But there can also be incredible pain at the incision site, and women can't lift anything for a while, including the baby. They might have trouble with their backs, as well.
Abdominal surgery is one of the most difficult kinds of surgery to recover from, and that can be really daunting for a woman who just wants to spend the next couple of months getting to know her baby.
For a lot of women, childbirth will be the first time that they go into the hospital since the time they were born. It can be pretty daunting knowing that they could come out with a lot more pain that they had coming in, and that can make them be against having a C-section, even when they know it's safer for the birth.
14 Against: Bigger Risks For Mom
While sometimes it's impossible for a mom to safely deliver her baby, that doesn't mean that a C-section isn't risky. In fact, it can be really hard on a woman's health compared to giving birth naturally. Usually a mom has to stay in the hospital longer so that doctors can keep a closer eye on her health for a couple more days because of the increased likelihood of complications.
While a woman could have issues with blood clots or infections no matter how she gives birth, the risk is three times higher when she has a C-section, according to a study cited in Live Science.
A woman could also face complications from the anesthesia, which also could harm her health. There's a possibility that other organs could be injured, such as the intestines and the bladder, and a mom could end up having to spend a lot of her maternity leave in the hospital.
After a woman has a C-section, there is a risk that any future pregnancies could be more complicated because of an increased possibility of issues with the placenta, as well as uterine ruptures. It's a scary situation, and many women would just prefer to go through the process of pushing the baby out if it is all possible.
13 Against: Baby's Breathing Differences
The only sound that a woman wants to hear when her baby is born is a big, healthy cry. After that moment, her main job will be to respond to those cries to make sure the baby is well-fed, healthy and dry.
But at the birth, the cry is a signal that the baby is breathing well, and that is all that a mom wants. Babies born via C-section, though, might have more of a struggle than those born naturally, and that is one reason that moms are against the idea.
Breathing is a major component of the Apgar score that measures the baby's health at birth, and it can also impact the baby's brain health if he isn't breathing for a certain period of time. According to KidsHealth, some newborns deal with a condition called transient tachypnea, which includes fast or labored breathing in the first several hours of life, and babies who are born via C-section or rapid natural deliveries are more likely to suffer from the issues because their lungs don't have time to absorb the fluid in their lungs in a process triggered by hormonal changes during labor. Also, some of the fluid is squeezed out as the baby goes through the birth canal.
No mom wants her baby to have a disadvantage when it comes to their breathing. Usually, transient tachypnea might mean a NICU stay, but let us reassure you that most of the time babies recover and there are no long-term problems.
12 Against: Breastfeeding Delay
One of the biggest goals that many women have these days for their birth experience is to breastfeed immediately after the birth. That's because moms have much more knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as more knowledge about the problems that can arise when a woman tries to nurse her child. There is a lot of pressure on women these days, so she wants to do all that she can to give breastfeeding as good of a shot as she can. Unfortunately, some women worry that a C-section could hurt her chances.
According to research, a baby has a natural instinct to nurse that is greatest in the first hour after birth. That time period is known as the golden hour, and lactation consultants encourage women to nurse within it so that babies don't struggle with their suck-swallow-breathe pattern a few hours later. But with a C-section, often the baby is taken out of the operating room so that doctors can close up the mother's incision while the baby is evaluated.
Sometimes, the recovery from surgery makes it impossible to nurse in the first hour, when it is often easiest for babies to latch.
Moms can be against the C-section because of their breastfeeding worries, but plenty of women have success nursing their children when they miss that golden hour opportunity. And doctors who perform family-centered C-sections might allow the mom to nurse while the doctor finishes up the surgery. Just because a mom has a C-section doesn't mean that she can't breastfeed.
11 Against: Fear Of Mom Shaming
The worst of having a baby these days is the worry about judgment from other moms. That's the price of having so much information available about the pros and cons of just about every decision that a woman makes in parenting. That includes how she gives birth, and sometimes that is the truth whether the doctor recommends a C-section or not.
We've talked about a lot of reasons that moms are against C-sections, and that can pose a problem when a mom is facing a critical point in her pregnancy. She may be against the surgery herself, but even if she is fine with it, some women are scared to tell others about her C-section (both before it happens and after) because some moms might shame her for it.
There are lots of women who take pride in going through hours of labor, and they think that C-section moms took the easy way out, even though they may have little choice in the matter.
They are going to remind a woman of every risk and concern, as if they weren't already aware of the pros and the cons of the surgery.
In recent years, people have tried to battle against the mom shaming, and we hope that the trend ends soon. No woman should be made to feel badly about her choices, especially when she is making the safest choice for her family.
10 Need It: Small Pelvis
Many women (the mommy judgers) talk about how natural childbirth is and that pretty much every woman can do it. But the truth is that there are women whose bodies don't really have the body for it.
In fact, according to a research story that came out in late 2016, while people are a lot bigger than they have ever been in history — including newborns — the size of women's pelvises hasn't grown at all over the centuries. The birth canal is pretty small, and for many women it's too small for the baby to get out safely.
Unfortunately, some women go through the entire labor process for hours or even days, and they push for hours before they realize that they can't get the baby out through their pelvis. In the past, a lot of doctors used tools like vacuums or forceps to pull the baby through the pelvis, but those devices often left the baby with an injury. Some kids lost eyes or worse because of forceps, so most doctors no longer use them. That means that doctors have less options to get the baby out these days.
According to the research study, C-sections may have impacted the evolution of women's bodies, increasing the gap between the size of the pelvis and the size of the baby. The opening can only stretch so big when there are bones in place, and even though C-sections might have a side effect, there would be a lot more babies stuck if it weren't for the surgery.
9 Need It: Breech Babies
There are times that doctors know ahead of time that a natural delivery is a dangerous situation, and one of those times is when the baby is breech. The head is the largest part of a baby, but part of the miracle of birth is that the baby's skull starts out in several pieces that can move slightly to allow the head to slip through the birth canal more easily. That's why newborns have a soft spot that remains for the first year or so, when the pieces fuse together. It makes a baby's head-first birth the safest way to give birth naturally. The bones of the buttocks, on the other hand, have no way to give.
Also, the most difficult parts of the body to deliver are the shoulders.
If a baby is born head first, then the head is already safely out when the doctor or midwife helps deliver the shoulders, but if the baby is breech, the head is still stuck inside while the shoulders are stuck.
According to a Reuters report, a study from the Netherlands in the year 2000 found that breech babies born naturally have a 33 percent higher risk of death or injury compared to breech babies who are delivered via C-section. Still, about 40 percent of moms whose babies are birth try for a natural birth, and they risk is still incredibly high, and many still end up in an emergency C-section. Thank goodness that the surgery exists or a lot more babies wouldn't make it through the birth.
8 Need It: Something's In the Way
Before C-sections were conceived as a way to deliver babies somewhere around 500 years ago, there was only one way for a baby to get out of his mother's womb. That is through the birth canal, but unfortunately there are times when there is something in the way of that exit. That's why some moms are really grateful that there is a surgery that could allow the baby to be born safely and allow the mother to live to raise him.
There are three major things that could be in the way of the baby getting out through the birth canal. One is the umbilical cord, and we'll talk more extensively about that a little later on.
It is also possible that the placenta could be covering the cervix. That is a condition called placenta previa, and it is a very dangerous situation, even when a woman plans to give birth via C-section.
With placenta previa, there is a possibility that the mother could start bleeding at any point during the pregnancy, and she will have to refrain from a number of activities, including running and intimacy to try to avoid the complications. There's a possibility that the placenta could move positions before the mother goes into labor, but if not, she will definitely need a C-section or both her and the baby could bleed to death.
There is also a possibility that the mom could have a fibroid or tumor either in her uterus or in her cervix that blocks the path for the birth. Usually, benign fibroids or tumors don't cause problems during the pregnancy, but they definitely pose a problem for the delivery, so her doctor will likely schedule a C-section before she goes into labor.
7 Need It: Multiples On The Way
Having more than one baby is a high risk pregnancy — and giving birth to twins, triplets, quadruplets and more is also very risky. That's why many doctors tell women from the moment they find out that they are pregnant with multiples that they may need to prepare for a C-section. There are a lot of reasons why natural births are risky, although some doctors will allow a woman to try to go through labor and delivery but have the operating room on standby.
First of all, it's very possible that a multiple mom will go into preterm labor. About 60 percent of twins are born early, and 90 percent of triplets are — and just about all higher-order multiples make their way to the world before 32 weeks or so. That means many of them are at a low birth weight are especially fragile during a delivery.
The mom is at greater risk for things like preeclampsia and placental abruption, which make a faster delivery more necessary.
And many times the cords of multiples can become a big problem during the birth, which means there is a big likelihood that the blood and oxygen supply could be cut off during the delivery. There is also a possibility of at least one of the babies being in the breech position, which can pose an issue, as we've already discussed.
According to the Pew Research Center, twins, triplets and higher order multiples have dramatically increased since 1915 from about 2 percent of all babies born to about 3.5 percent in the United States. That means that C-sections are more and more important to give all of the babies the best chance at survival.
6 Need It: STD Risks
Thanks to medical breakthroughs, the treatment for STDs means that a lot of people are surviving a long time. But there is still a huge risk of a woman with an STD passing along an infection to her baby during a natural delivery. That goes for everything from herpes to HIV/AIDS. There are a lot of fluids involved in natural deliveries, and there is a big likelihood that the mother could pass on her infection to her baby — for something like HIV that could mean a lifetime of medications and anxiety — so sometimes it's best to schedule a C-section so doctors can take extra precautions to try to keep the baby protected.
Moms should be really concerned about gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.
They may not be that bothered by the symptoms that they experience, but a baby who is born naturally could get the infection in places they wouldn't expect. They can get severe eye infections and may go blind.
Syphilis in infants who don't receive treatment could mean issues with their bones, teeth, heart, ears and brain. It can even be fatal.
Doctors have noticed a rise in STDs among pregnant women, and many times the infections develop after the original first trimester screening, if the woman doesn't use protection because she no longer has to worry about pregnancy. That could mean severe consequences to the baby in a natural delivery, so it's important that a woman is safe and that she considers a C-section if she has an infection.
5 Need It: High Risk Baby
There are many reasons that a woman and her doctor will plan a C-section for the birth of the baby, but sometimes the surgery only comes up after hours and hours of labor. The mom might be in a lot of pain, but she could still think that everything was going fine, progressing naturally toward a natural delivery when all of a sudden an emergency occurs.
Unfortunately, some babies don't handle labor well, and it's hard for doctors to really see what is going on with them when they are still inside their mother's womb.
Some women are constantly monitored through their labor, with monitors on their belly that track the baby's heartbeat, while others have the baby's heartbeat checked with a stethoscope every once in a while. If the doctor detects a problem, that might mean that a quick delivery is necessary, and usually the fastest way for the baby to get out is through a C-section.
This reason may be one of the most controversial of reasons that we are grateful for C-sections. Some moms think that doctors are too quick to opt for surgery when the baby's heartbeat changes. But it's hard to really tell when the baby is in distress. During contractions, the baby's heartbeat might get faster or slower naturally. The problem for a doctor is that he doesn't want to wait until it is too late, and the moms who haven't been in that situation (the judgy ones) don't know the stress that a concern for fetal distress can cause. In the end, it is more important for a woman to ensure her baby's safe delivery than to wait and be sorry later.
4 Need It: Cord Troubles
An umbilical cord is an amazing thing. Along with the placenta, the cord is responsible for passing along blood, oxygen and nutrients from the mom to the baby to ensure that they are both healthy and for the baby to grow. Without the cord, the baby would not be able to survive the pregnancy, but during the delivery, it could really pose a problem. Most moms go through labor and delivery without a worry about the umbilical cord, but for some, it's important that the doctor keeps an eye on the cord to make sure that the baby remains healthy until it is born and the cord can be cut. A problem could mean that the baby needs to be delivered via C-section.
As we've mentioned, sometimes things can get in the way of the birth canal during the delivery, and if it is the umbilical cord, that can make a natural delivery incredibly dangerous.
If the cord comes out before the baby, which can happen when the woman's water breaks before or early in labor, then the baby's head could compress it during the delivery. That means that the baby is deprived of oxygen during a time that he needs it most, and that is definitely dangerous.
It's also possible that the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck. Sometimes the doctor can still safely deliver the baby and unwrap the cord, but other times it's dangerous. And the cord could have a knot that tightens and cuts off the blood supply. Cord troubles can make a natural delivery very dangerous, which means it's time to start considering a C-section.
3 Need It: Mother's Health Concerns
Having a baby is a very difficult process. It can really put a strain on a woman's body, and if she isn't in good health, it's possible that labor and a natural delivery could be too much for her. There are times when a mother's health could be a good reason to plan ahead and think about whether a C-section is the best option for saving her life so that she can be around to raise her child. If the mom can't make it through the delivery, it's possible that the baby could also be at high risk, so it's really a matter of everyone's health, and that might mean that a C-section is the only option.
Thanks to medical breakthroughs there are many women who can now have babies who may have never been able to conceive in the past.
Research and technology means that women who have diabetes, heart disease and even cancer survivors may be able to get pregnant and carry babies to term. But once it is time for the birth, their bodies have to be considered.
As difficult as the postpartum recovery of a C-section is, it might be better than putting stress on the heart of a woman with a heart condition. The mother's health is definitely a factor in making medical decisions about the delivery, and that could mean that a C-section is the best option for everyone concerned.
2 Need It: Fragile Baby
Of course, in addition to the mother's health, the baby's health is a major factor in the delivery. The stress of contractions could definitely be too much for some children, so many moms don't want to risk their little one's life just to have a birth experience that some people think is optimal. Just like we mentioned before, medical breakthroughs mean that some babies who would almost certainly have not survived a few decades ago have a much greater chance at life nowadays. There is no reason to add stress to the baby's system with contractions that could hurt the outcome.
There are many health conditions that could cause concern for the baby. That includes heart defects, which are the most prevalent kind of birth defect.
They occur in babies who have Down syndrome as well as other conditions and some babies who only have heart problems. Children with neural tube defects could be paralyzed during a natural delivery, and there are babies who could pass away at birth if they were to go through the stress of labor. Many times, if a baby is diagnosed with a disorder during the prenatal period, doctors could discuss a C-section as the safest option to consider for the delivery. The baby might be OK during labor, but it's not necessarily worth the risk when the baby is more likely to survive a surgery.
1 Need It: Planning Ahead
Confucius said, "A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door." The same is true for pregnant women, especially when they know that there is a complication that makes the health of the baby and the mother a concern. For some, there might be a chance that a natural delivery would be OK, but they don't want to risk anything, so they enjoy the luxury of being able to plan for the birth. Some moms get to set the day for a scheduled C-section, and they can make sure that it works for the grandparents and everything.
Planning is also beneficial for doctors, especially in cases of complicated deliveries such as those that involve the baby having a disorder. It's possible to schedule other medical care ahead of time, and for some cases, the doctors and nurses actually practice what the delivery should be like, such as in the birth of higher order multiples. Planning could mean a lot to ensure the health of the mom and the baby, and even if it means that a mom has to go through surgery, it is totally worth it when the baby is born safe and healthy.