Most first-time mothers do not often include the word "c-section" in their birth plan discussions. This scary surgery talk is reserved for conversations between a doctor and patient when the due date has past, and mother is not showing signs of labor. These talks are found in hospital rooms when labor is not progressing, baby is in danger, or baby is not in a prime birthing position.
Mothers are not informed or educated on the practices of c-sections, and tend to be scared into them with little preparation for the task at hand. The rate of c-sections are climbing at an alarming rate. They are up 500% from It has been reported that nearly 1 of every 3 babies born each year, or roughly 1.3 million children are delivered via cesarean.
The problem is, only 5% of these are deemed medically necessary. So why on earth would a doctor perform a "major surgery" on someone when it is not medically necessary? Some people feel like it's doctors taking advantage of women so they can make more money, but it could be that women are scared of natural birth because of things they hear or think will happen.
Childbirth educators are asking these questions, and researching data from numerous hospitals around the country to try and get some answers. "We need to educate women
before they are scared into a procedure they don't need, like I was." a friend of mine told me. She is studying to be a doula after her own experience with an unnecessary C-section.
Here are some stats on c-sections that doctors don't want their patients to know.
12 C-sections Can Mean Maternal Transfusions
Yes, you read that correctly, transfusions! While we all know that any surgery can certainly cause a patient to lose blood, you don't often hear of transfusions in discussions about labor. The rate of maternal transfusions required is literally double between those required for a vaginal birth and those that are performed for repeat C-sections with a failed trial of labor. The rates of transfusions for repeat C-sections with no trial of labor, are still higher than a standard vaginal delivery, but much lower than the attempt to labor followed by a repeat C-section.
This only goes to further support the fact that one cesarean almost always results in another. Even in the cases where a maternal transfusion is not required, you still run an additional risk of an unplanned hysterectomy, ruptured uterus, or admission into the intensive care unit.
11 C-Sections May Cause Placenta Previa
The placenta will form wherever the embryo attaches itself inside the uterus. In the case of an embryo that attaches to the lower part of the abdomen, the placenta may grow to cover the cervix. There are 3 types; complete, partial and marginal. Complete previa is when the placenta covers the entire cervix.
Partial, as you may have guessed is a placenta which only covers a portion of the cervix. Marginal previa is the least concerning, and is when only a very small edge of the cervix is covered.
Any type of placenta previa is not good, and can result in a mother being confined to bed rest, and making frequent hospital visits. This is not something most of us can imagine, especially for those of us already chasing a toddler around.
The risk rate for placenta previa rises based on certain factors; if you are over the age of 35, if you have had a previous cesarean, and if you have had multiples. It has been stated that the scars lining the inside of the uterus can be reason enough to cause placenta previa as well.
10 C-Sections Can Lead To ICU Admittance
There are always things that can go wrong during a C-section, or any surgery for that matter, resulting in a patient being admitted into ICU. However, in the case of a C-section, especially a repeat, the chances are much higher. Some of the possible complications include too much blood loss, resulting in the need for a transfusion, or an emergency hysterectomy brought on by too much blood loss.
There's the possibility of a uterine rupture, which can be caused by too much pressure on the previous C-section scar, or even a bad reaction to medication of anesthesia.
Blood clots are another complication that can land you in the ICU. They can be caused by a mother who is overweight to start her pregnancy, a long and complicated operation, or a mother who spends a lot of time on bedrest and very little time moving after her surgery is completed.
The best bet is to make it to your surgery as healthy as possible, and hope and pray that everything goes as well as possible. Know that in the event of an emergency, your doctor knows what to do.
9 C-Sections Can Cause Uterine Ruptures
Rupture, the very word sounds incredibly scary, doesn't it? I picture something exploding, and this isn't what I want to imagine happening inside my body! A uterine rupture is a tear inside the uterus, most often at the incision sight from a previous cesarean. It is caused when the pressure from labor pushes against this scar, and the uterus cannot hold its own.
This results in a rupture, which can be treated in numerous ways. First, an emergency C-section is performed. Especially if a woman was attempting a VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean. Also, if the uterus can be repaired, it will be. Otherwise a hysterectomy will also be performed. In addition to these issues, a woman generally loses a lot of blood during a uterine rupture, and requires a transfusion.
The good news is, while rare, these occur often enough that doctors are versed in handling them, and can be expected to make the right judgment calls in order to save your life.
There are a number of issues, which are unknown to most expectant mothers, especially first time mothers, that can really affect their birth plan. The choices you make in the hospital that day have such an incredible effect on your life. Not only are you making a decision in regards to the life of your child, but one that impacts your own health, the future health of your child, and your progress through any future pregnancies.
That being said, don't be stubborn. Don't refuse a C-section if it is medically necessary, but don't allow yourself to be scared into one either. Educate yourself, ask about the C-section rates of both your doctor and your hospital.
It's okay to make the best informed decision for everyone! Just know that the research is up to you, because there are certain things your doctor just doesn't want you to know.
8 Once A C-Section, Always A C-Section
If a woman delivers her first baby via a cesarean section, she is 90% more likely to deliver her second child the same way. VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, rates are dropping drastically. Very few doctors still offer this procedure, and even fewer insurers will pay for it.
This is because repeat c-sections are associated with significantly lower risk rates for both mother and baby. VBAC's have been known to increase certain risks for mother and baby, along with the possible complication of a rupture of the uterine wall. This is rare, but can occur around the area of the scar from the first incision.
This is not a conversation most doctors care to have with their patients. The thought of needing to have multiple c-sections (for all future births) might deter many women for opting to go the c-section route the first time. Whether they were scared into it, or whether they opted for this route because they thought it would be less painful.
It is not something that should be taken lightly, especially when we take into account each subsequent pregnancy.
7 They Drive Up Health Care Costs
Whether the cost is paid by the mother or by the insurance company, c-sections cost more than a standard vaginal birth. The average cost of a c-section is 30 percent higher than a vaginal birth. You are taking on the cost of the operating room, which alone is extension. How about the epidural you may not have otherwise elected to have? And how many nurses are standing there while they doctor performs your surgery?
I counted at least 5 in the room with me! If you want to really understand how high the rate of c-sections has gotten, try out this mind boggling fact. If the c-sections performed each year were cut in half, the U.S. would save $5 billion dollars in health care costs, yes, 5 BILLION. That is quite a pretty penny!
But doctors don't want you to know that your cost increases with a c-section! This might cause an educated woman to ask again and again for validity that it is medically necessary.
6 C-Sections Require A Longer Recovery Process
Women who are about to give birth are already slightly, if not entirely overwhelmed and nervous. They are asking themselves tons of questions, such as, how bad will this really hurt? Will I be a good mom? Should I breastfeed? How long until I start to feel like myself again? Will I EVER feel like myself again?
And here is the kicker, and another little gem most doctors don't want to share with you...c-section recovery time is much longer.
This surgery, which is literally marked by a 6 inch incision on the stomach and another through the uterus generally involves an extended 2-3 days in the hospital. Once home the healing process takes much longer and may impede a woman from feeling physically able to care for her baby, or herself, or even to perform simple tasks such as bending and reaching.
Repeat c-sections are known for excess scar tissue that can result in women not being able to hold their own babies until the healing begins. Not really the kind of thing a doctor wants to share before they schedule their incision.
5 Increase The Health Risks For Both Mother And Baby
As with any surgery, there is always the risk for infection at the time of the procedure. The body is opened up and exposed to the elements around it. Although rare, the risk of injury for the baby increases slightly, as babies can be cut or scrapped or marked by the incision.
Another issue, that does not first come to mind for many, is that a c-section extends the amount of time for which a new mother must stay in the hospital. This alone can expose her to hospital borne infections, and can increase her risk for infections long after her wound has been closed.
Scar tissue from a c-section can heal in an abnormal way and adhere itself to one of the many organs inside the body. Some women have bad reactions to the anesthesia that include severe headaches when sitting upright in the days following the surgery. Another risk that is much higher after cesarean that is almost non-existent after a vagnal birth is the increased risk for blood clots.
If a blood clot travels to your lungs, it can be life threatening. You can help lower this risk for yourself by walking soon after surgery.
4 Increase The Risk For Complications In Future Pregnancies
With each subsequent pregnancy, after an initial C-section, you face an even higher risk of some serious complications. These complications are not nearly as prevalent in future pregnancies after a vaginal birth. Problems with the placenta, preeclampsia, hysterectomy, and postpartum hemorrhaging are just a few of the complications that can be seen with the mother.
Issues with the babies range from small for gestational age, respiratory distress syndrome, to preterm delivery. This is another fact that doctors don't want you to know about. Can you imagine having all these facts laid out before you, and then just jumping onto the operating table?
There has also been an increase in
3 They Are More Convenient And Safer For Doctors
This begs the question, who are we really protecting by forcing our bodies to undergo a major surgery? Yes, some instances are absolutely necessary, and are to be thanked for saving the lives of both mothers and children. But, that is not the largest percentage of these cesareans. Not only are they not being deemed medically necessary, but in many cases, the only person benefiting from the surgery are the doctors themselves.
That's right, your birth plan, the one you have spent hours going over, is now based on convenience. Let's check some facts. The number of babies both on holidays has decreased dramatically over the past 10 years, along with the number of babies born in the middle of the night - 2am anyone?
Why should a doctor skip Christmas Eve with their family to deliver your baby? Nah, they can just schedule your surgery for December 23, and just pop in on the 24th to check on you.
Moreover, a cesarean is more straightforward from the doctor's side. There is less of a chance for them to make an error of judgment for complications. The associated statistic should be a drop in the number of lawsuits put forth by patients.
According to a 2010 poll from the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology 29 percent of obstetricians were recorded as saying they were performing more caesareans in order to avoid being sued by their patients.
2 A Baby Delivered Via Cesarean May Have Long Term Health Complications
A new study in Australia was performed on children who were born via C-sections. Unfortunately the study only followed these children for 2 years. Even during this short time period, it was discovered that the children born via C-section had an increased chance of developing asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
The thoughts among professionals are that the increase in asthma can be attributed to the development of the lungs at the time of the planned surgery. With even more women being induced earlier than 39 weeks, the lungs may not have had enough time to fully mature. This can result in time being spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, which again, drives back up those costs.
Research has not yet proven why these other diseases are linked to cesarean. In the meantime, it is best to make decisions based on the evidence we do have. Generally speaking, children born via C-section seem to have worse health than those born vaginally. Yet another reason to avoid this major surgery unless medically necessary.
1 Many Times Induction Means Cesarean
When you hear the word induction, you should automatically know that you now have a 35-50% higher chance of having a C-section. Trying to bring about the labor process through medical intervention, such as drugs to bring on contractions that don't always work. Not only does it not work, but sometimes it can bring along it's own set of complications or onset of additional problems.
Pitocin, used to induce labor, has been attributed to causing problems in some women, contractions that get so strong they cause decelerations in the heart beat of the infant, or onset of contractions so strong they force a women to dilate much faster than her body is ready to.
Manually stripping the membranes or rupturing the amniotic sac now puts you on the clock. You only have some many hours to deliver this baby before chance of infection increases, and they will be ready to schedule your surgery. Inductions themselves are at an all time high, which leaves the door wide open for the not medically necessary cesarean to creep right up on you.
Sources: American Pregnancy, Babycenter, Fit Pregnancy, CDC