We all know that C-Section rates are on the rise all around the globe, but especially so in the United States. The World Health Organization expresses grave concern over the steadily increasing numbers of C-Sections, especially in those that are elective or unnecessary. They say that we are far exceeded the healthy limitations and that C-Sections should make up no more than 10-15% of all deliveries. In the US, nearly 1/3 of all women deliver via C-Section, and at least half of them do so by choice rather than necessity.
Experts say is a societal trend that could potentially have very dangerous long term implications. Most women, who elect for surgery, say that they do so because they fear the pain associated with natural labor and delivery. Many say that there were simply offered the choice by the physician and they opted in. Others simply wanted to be able to plan for an exact due date. Whatever the reasons, researchers say that most women are not well informed about their decision. They usually don’t understand the possible implications of the major abdominal surgery, and they often believe that a planned, surgical delivery is safer than vaginal delivery.
In some cases, C-Sections are absolutely necessary and life-saving and done with good reason. And indeed; even in elective surgeries, women reserve the right to make their own choice. But, critics often ponder if so many mothers would still make the same choice if they were better informed. Once armed with scientific knowledge and decades of research that shows the negative effects a C-Section has on an infant, many women might be quick to reconsider. They might have meaningful reasons not to choose a C-Section when it has not been deemed medically necessary.
15 Offspring Might Be More Prone To A C-Section, Too
According to a small group of researchers from Austria and the USA, large numbers of women having C-Sections over a long period of time may influence the evolution of our offspring. Along with rise in delivery by C-section, scientists have noticed a change in human offspring: babies with larger heads. The study speculates that this adaptation would not have been likely through natural birthing methods. The way it works is that a woman’s birth canal is designed to host a baby (and its smaller head) that is deliverable through the vagina, as nature intended.
Prior to C-sections, babies with heads too large that were unable to be delivered by natural means would not survive in many circumstances. Whether the baby died in utero or during labor and delivery, the genetics that influenced a larger than normal head would stop there. When offspring with the trait does not reproduce, the trait becomes eliminated or altered until a better version is available. But, scientists say that since we are interfering with nature via surgical delivery, we are preventing our species to eliminate this particular birth complication.
In other words, high numbers of C-sections, mean higher numbers of babies are being born that survive birth when they would not have otherwise. Too many babies that artificially past the birth test give rise to traits in our offspring that would have been eliminated by nature. Babies with larger than appropriate head sizes will likely pass on the message that this trait is okay and future generations will continue to have babies with heads that are too large to pass through the birth canal. What this could mean for the future is one of 2 things. 1) Future generations of humans might find it impossible to have a baby by vaginal delivery and will only being able to successfully deliver via C-section. Or 2) A higher number of late term miscarriages, stillbirths, and fetal death during labor and delivery due to babies that have head too large to fit through the birth canal.
14 The Baby Is Higher Risk For Obesity
There have now been many, many studies that link babies delivered by C-section with increased risk for obesity at any time in their life. Such babies are 15% more like than babies born vaginally, to struggle with being overweight into adulthood. Babies born via C-section compared to their siblings, who were born vaginally, are 64% more likely than their natural born brothers and sisters to be overweight.
The information provided is a result of research that studied the effects of C-sections on newborns for 16 years. Although being born to an obese mother though C-section is a factor for determining what causes obesity in offspring, it is not the sole defining factor. New studies are showing that babies who not delivered vaginally lack exposure to certain microbiomes in the birth canal that could cause trouble with metabolism and intestinal health, potentially making C-section babies more prone to having weight issues.
13 The Baby Has Higher Risk For Asthma
Studies show that babies born through C-Section are more likely to have Asthma than vaginally born babies. It does not matter if the surgery was planned or spontaneous, and the babies affected are often more likely to have severe asthma that may require hospitalization, the use of an inhaler by the age of 5, and sometimes even resulting in death. The study done by the American Medial Association was to understand if there any long term health complication influenced by method of birth delivery. The researchers say that this information is only observational at this point, and it cannot be confirmed with certainty at this point that C-sections are the major cause of the recent increase in risk of asthma in infants. It is understood that surgical intervention during labor and delivery are often necessary and save lives, but the concern comes over high numbers of C-sections that may be elective or unnecessary.
12 The Baby Doesn’t Receive Mom’s Microbiomes
New information came out in 2016 that stunned the world of pregnancy and delivery. C-sections are typically believed to be safer than vaginal delivery in many circumstances. But, the truth is that we may be a bit misguided or even misinformed on many angles of the effects of C-section. New scientific information revealed that babies are exposed to a good dose of bacteria in the birth canal that could be essential in preparing our offspring for life outside the womb.
Babies who are born via C-section are not exposed these so called germs, referred to as microbiomes. Not being exposed to these types of bacteria at birth could prove to have long term consequences that could have huge health implications related to immune function. Luckily, correlating research has already begun, testing to see if C-section babies can receive the same benefits of vaginal born babies simply by being exposed to microbiomes from the mother’s vagina post delivery.
A small sample group of participants is being monitored after a swab taken from their mother was smeared all over the babies with special attention to their face and mouth. A lot more research is required before we can understand if this type of intervention would be beneficial.
11 That Baby Could Be At Higher Risk For Childhood Leukemia
According to new information in cancer research, there could be a new correlation between C-section delivery and Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The link is only related to pre-labor Cesarean Delivery. The link does not exist with emergency C-Sections or with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The analysis was collected from more than 13 separate studies. It has been noted that babies born via section are at a 23% increased risk for this Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Some possible explanations are related to the high levels of the stress hormone cortisol present during an artificial delivery in combination with lack of exposure to the colonizing microbiomes that babies are exposed to through vaginal delivery. The current belief is that controlling cortisol exposure at birth may eliminate the pre-leukemic cells and prevent them from maturing. Further research is still needed to give us more reliable and detailed information. Scientists are hopeful that the information could be useful in cancer prevention.
10 The Baby Is Higher Risk For Type I Diabetes
Type I Diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes often develops early in life. There are many risk factors for the disease, but the true reason and cause are mostly misunderstood. Recent studies have revealed that babies born through C-Section are much more likely to develop Type I Diabetes. This information could lend a clue to how the disease develops in the first place. When all other risk factors were already considered, C-section babies were 20% more likely than vaginally born babies to have Type 1 Diabetes.
The information is compiled from 20 separate worldwide studies. Doctors in the studies speculate that this may be happening due to an impaired immune response in C-section babies who are first exposed to bacteria in a hospital environment rather than from the vaginal fluid of their mother. They explain that the immune system is responsible for destroying the pancreatic beta cells that are found in Type I Diabetics. The disruption from natural birth could be triggering a harmful response.
9 Many C-Section Newborns Are Born With Temporary Hearing Impairment
Recent research shows that babies born via C-Section are 3 times as likely to fail their first hearing test, typically given shortly after birth. Researchers say that parents should be informed but not alarmed about the discovery. Generally, the noted hearing loss is temporary and resolves within 72 hours. It turns out that the early results could be influenced by fluid that is retained in the inner ear. Speculation has it that something happens during vaginal birth that helps release the middle ear fluid in natural born babies.
C-section babies don’t get the same immediate benefits, but don’t necessarily need to be subjected to additional screening that is recommended for babies that don’t pass the initial test. The doctors say that some things are just different about C-section babies, and in this case, the results would be better if testing on C-section babies is delayed by a couple of days. The main thing is for parents to be informed of the high likelihood of a failed hearing test, to prevent unnecessary panic or concern.
8 Babies Are At Increased Risk For Serious Illness And Disorders
Babies that enter the world via C-Section are at much greater risk for auto immune disorders and chronic illness. This information was compiled through scientific and medical studies based on children born through C-section between the years of 1973 and 2012. Children born through cesarean delivery are more frequently hospitalized than vaginally born babies. Some of the reasons are due to asthmas, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorder, immune system defects, leukemia, and tissue disorders.
Results of the research have determined that babies born by C-section are 40% more likely to have an immune defect and 10% more likely to have rheumatoid juvenile arthritis. The reasons are not yet clear, but it is understood that surgical intervention affects both the immune system and the bowel function. Scientists say that Cesarean sections may one of many factors considering in environmental influences that activate the genes that are causing to people to be sick.
7 C-Sections Are Linked With Delayed Brain Function In Babies
Most women have no idea that delivering by C-Section could have an impact on the brain function of their babies. Doctors studying the topic have found that such babies show slowed spatial attention. Spatial attention is related to how well a baby can focus on a specific area of interest. Eye movements of the infants were monitored to understand where they put their attention and for how long. The study indicated that when compare to babies born vaginally, babies from cesareans showed less ability to concentrate.
Researchers believe that this is happening because brain development can be impacted by delivery method. The findings show that there is no cognitive difference between the babies but rather the difference is in the ability to concentrate and voluntarily focus their attention. At this time is it not understood why an alternative delivery which cause such differences in brain functions. It is also unclear whether the effects are long term or life- long.
6 Babies Born Via C-Section Are Much Less Likely To Be Breastfed
According to the National Library of Medicine “both emergency and planned C-Sections may adversely affect breastfeeding initiation, milk supply, and infant breastfeeding receptivity when compared to vaginally delivered babies.” As many as 7% of mother who deliver by C-section show no intention of breastfeeding, as compared to between 1-3% of mother who choose vaginal delivery.
Mothers of unplanned C-section were far more likely to continue with breastfeeding initiation. Women who did intend to breastfeed were 41% more likely to have breastfeeding difficulties after a C-section. Of those who planned their C-section, they were much more likely to quit breastfeeding before 12 week postpartum than women who delivered vaginally. One major contributing factor is that babies born via C-section are much less likely to nurse immediately following birth or within the first hour or 24 hours after delivery.
In addition, babies of C-Sections are less likely to be offered skin to skin contact, in efforts to allow the mother to heal from her incision. It is commonly reported that both breastfeeding and skin to skin contact are uncomfortable for the mother due to effects from the surgery. Researchers believe that if women were offered more breast feeding support in correlation with post C-Section care, the result would be different.
5 C- Section Babies May Be Born With Less Emotional Attachment To The Mother
It is very typical that mother and baby are separated quickly after cesarean delivery, or in some cases they not even able to officially “meet” each other for up to several hours after birth. Kangaroo care is often performed by another family member while the mother is being stitched up after the surgery. Immediate breastfeeding is often not possible or not comfortable and is skipped in lieu of recovery time. It is also understood that often these babies are given formula when the mother is unavailable for the initial feeding.
Unfortunately, these disruptions could have lasting implications on the ability of mother and baby to properly bond. Important hormones are released by both the mother and baby during birth and in the hour post delivery. When contact is delayed, these hormones that induce states of dependency and attachment miss their window to develop the naturally enhanced mother and baby bond. For this reason, many mothers report a struggle to connect with their newborns after having had a c-section.
4 Higher Risk For Respiratory Problems
The risk for breathing complications in newborns born by scheduled C-Section is considerably higher than babies born vaginally. With scheduled C-Sections, babies have a much greater chance of being born pre-term even if the gestational age is believed to be beyond 37 weeks. When the labor is forced, prior to a mother going into natural labor, there is a significant risk that the lungs have not yet been fully developed. For this reason, certain types of respiratory complications can arise during and immediately following delivery.
The issues can be quite serious and often require admission to an advanced care nursery. In fact, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, commonly associated with C-sections can lead to newborns being hospitalized for as many as 26 days. The March of Dimes has expressed serious concerns over a link between increasing numbers of planned C-section and labor inductions and a rise in the number of pre-term and low birth weight babies being born in the USA. It is easy to miscalculate a pregnancy by a week or so, and in the case of these infants a single week can make the difference between a late-preterm baby and a term one.
3 Babies Are Highly Likely To Experience Stress And Shock
Some Doctors say that babies born by elective C-Section and specifically by induced labor experience a significant amount of shock imprint. From their perspective, when a mother has not naturally entered labor, it is a sign that the baby is not yet prepared to exit the womb. In other words, some babies are before they are ready and apparently there are psychological implications. As a result, some C-section babies have a tendency to withdraw.
Experts say that most parents and professionals alike are not able to distinguish between a quiet and easy baby verses and withdrawn, shock-ridden one. This might explain why a seemingly calm and placid baby suddenly turns inconsolable for long periods of time. Emergency C-Sections have a different mechanism of stress, as usually the labor comes on naturally but delivery does not progress as it should. Medical intervention becomes necessary and high levels of stress and anxiety are usually present in the mother. Of course, these hormones also transfer to the baby and can result in similar problems related to stress and trauma.
2 Risk Of Scalpel Injury To The Infant
Most of don’t hear about this side of C-Sections, and we honestly hope that we never do. But, the scary truth is that thousands of infants are injured during cesarean births every year. Often times the injuries are to the face, when surgeons accidentally knick the baby with the knife. The head is usually positioned near the incision point, and unfortunately sometimes mistakes happen. There are many stories of babies left with life-long disfiguring marks, and sometimes of babies who needed emergency plastic surgery.
There was even an instance of a baby last year that died as a result of a severe accidental scalpel incision. Most parents are stunned and shocked, having never been informed that this was a possible risk. Unfortunately, the legal battle to gain monetary consolation is tough one, as surgeons are usually protected against this type of accident-based law suit by waivers signed by parents who consent to the surgery.
1 Low Apgar Scores
If you’ve given birth before, you know how much of a bid deal the Apgar Test is. This is the very first test given a newborn that determines if the baby is in need of any medical assistance. The score is a quick assessment of the baby at 1 minute and 5 minutes post delivery. The test gives a rank of the baby’s appearance, pulse, responsiveness, muscle activity, and breathing. Each aspect of the test is worth 2 points and the points are added up for an overall value. The higher the Apgar score is, the better the condition of the newborn.
Babies with a score of 3 or less need life saving measures, babies with scores from 4 to 6 may need some sort of respiratory assistance. Unfortunately, babies born via C-Section are not exposed to the same sort of stimuli as they are in a vaginal birth, in addition, they may be under distress from a complicated delivery. This means that babies born by C-Section are much more likely to show low Apgar scores, and are in need of some sort of medical intervention.