Around thirty percent of pregnant women will have their children delivered by C-sections, a major surgical procedure. C-sections are performed for a variety of reasons, including the position of the baby, the slowing of labor, or fetal distress. Credited with saving the lives of moms and babies, surgical births are not procedures to be vilified. They are often necessary and safe, helping women deliver healthy babies.
However, there are risks and issues with any surgical procedure. Though many studies focus on the dangers a mother will risk when having a C-section, more recent publications are focusing attention on the risks to the children. These studies are moving beyond the immediate risks of a surgical birth, which are very real, and looking at the long-term risks of being born via C-section. The results prove alarming.
There are situations where a woman can't choose how she gives birth. Emergency C-sections and those that are scheduled due to known issues offer mom and baby an opportunity for safety. However, the rise in schedule C-sections for reasons that are not deemed medically necessary are concerning. With information about how a mode of birth can affect a child for life, would women still choose a C-section when a different option was available?
That's why the recent studies are so important. Knowing what can go wrong, not just during delivery but also years later, helps mothers make more informed choices about how they birth. If a C-section is the way the situation ends, so be it, but parents should know what they might be dealing with in the future and how to handle the issues that occur.
15 Low APGAR Scores
An APGAR score is used to assess a child's health at birth. It looks at the overall wellbeing of the baby and rates that on a scale. All babies, regardless of how they are born, receive an APGAR score. Babies born via C-section receive scores that are much lower.
Some parents may wonder why an APGAR score even matters, and there are plenty of skeptics who view the test as arbitrary. However, what the APGAR looks at is important. A child's skin color, pulse rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing are all measured once, often twice. If the first two tests aren't yielding positive results, a third test may be administered to see if the child needs help with respiration or if something is wrong that could point to a birth injury or genetic issue.The fact that babies delivered by surgical births score lower may be due to the fact that they have a higher chance of suffering from breathing problems right after birth. This can cause complications and issues from birth and beyond.
14 Obesity Struggles
Obesity is high in many countries, with childhood obesity now a major cause of health issues in kids. A surprising risk of having a baby via C-section is that it ups a child's chances of being obese later in life.The connection may be the gut issues previously discussed. There is a connection between gut bacteria present in the body and obesity. Though researchers are still discovering more about how bacteria affects weight, they know that certain bacteria are present in leaner bodies while missing in others. Unsurprisingly, babies who don't go through the birth canal miss beneficial bacteria that may help them avoid obesity.
Antibiotics are also used during C-sections, and those wreak havoc on the gut. Of course mom's gut is affected, but so is the baby's since those drugs make their way into her system. Having a compromised gut from the start leaves a child open to an increased risk of weight struggles throughout life.
13 Asthma Alert
Babies born by C-section are over 20 percent more likely to develop asthma, a respiratory condition that can lead to asthma attacks where a person has problems breathing. Asthma is usually due to a person's hypersensitivity, something that often occurs when gut bacteria is not balanced.Babies born via C-section don't get that precious bacteria exposure coming through the birth canal, and asthma is often the price they pay. Though attempting to introduce fermented foods or supplements that offer gut balance may help, there doesn't seem to be anything as potent as that first exposure to bacteria on the way out of mom's body.
Asthma is a scary condition that often leads to hospital visits since it comprises a child's lungs. People with asthma keep inhalers and nebulizers at the ready in case they have trouble breathing, and many children who are diagnosed with asthma carry the condition with them into adulthood.
12 Attachment Problems
Attachment between mom and baby can occur no matter how a child is born. There's no one way for a relationship to grow. However, It is necessary to acknowledge the specific challenges present when a mom doesn't give birth naturally.
Moms who have C-sections will have anesthesia, often leaving them feeling queasy and slightly disconnected. While this can also occur when a mom chooses an epidural for a V delivery, women who have C-sections have no choice. There's also the added medications given to help moms avoid infections, and all of this combined can leave moms feeling strange and not fully alert, leading to attachment issues.
Babies are often also taken from the surgery room and separated from their mothers, causing both to lose those precious first moments after birth. While baby-friendly hospitals and gentle C-sections are opening up new possibilities for moms and babies to stay close, it's not always possible. Those first moments after birth can't be recaptured, and for some moms, this is a hard fact to deal with.
11 Trouble Breastfeeding
Whether or not to breastfeed is a personal choice for each mom to make, but those who want to may be frustrated by a surgical birth. The loss of those first moments after birth in which to establish the nursing bond can wreak havoc on the situation and make it harder to get a baby to latch.There's also the groggy feeling that occurs right after surgery, leaving many moms frustrated due to lack of focus.
They want to breastfeed, but they find it difficult to help a baby, especially if the child is reluctant, latch properly in those hazy moments after birth.Pain is sometimes an issue for moms recovering from C-sections. There's always pain with childbirth, but moms who are recovering from a major surgery can have a hard time dealing with sore, rock-hard breasts on top of stitches and surgery pain. It's enough to make some moms give up early, though seeking a lactation specialist can help with many of the challenges.
When there's too much bilirubin in a baby's blood, he is diagnosed with jaundice. This condition can be present at birth regardless of how a child is delivered, but it is something that babies born via C-section need to be checked for.
Most of the time jaundice takes care of itself with no long-term damage to the baby. However, there are cases where it does not, and if it isn't treated a child can suffer from life-threatening complications. Due to all of the chaos surrounding C-sections, it's especially important for doctors to be on the lookout for signs of jaundice.
Jaundice may not show up right after birth, so parents need to alert the doctor if their child turns a yellowish color. Serious cases of jaundice cause may show up right after a baby is delivered, but others may wait for mom and the baby to arrive home.
9 Breathing Problems
The real issues that lead to C-sections don't negate the benefits of having a child naturally when possible. The birthing process, when it goes well, is designed to help babies when they exit the womb. A prime example is the way a woman's body squeezes a baby, helping the child expel excess fluid from the lungs and breathe better once he enters the world. A child who is born via C-section won't receive the extra internal hugs that aid the lungs, and this can lead to breathing problems in those moments right after birth.
Children born surgically also risk being taken too early since some C-sections are scheduled before due dates even arrive. When this occurs, a child's lungs may not be fully developed, causing him to need help in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for days after birth.
New recommendations seek to keep scheduled C-sections from being planned too early, but doctors still sometimes put a child at risk by choosing a date that is too far from the 40-week mark.
8 Birth Injury
Injuries can occur during any birth. Women who deliver via V-birth can have children who suffer from damage due to lack of oxygen, or on the less extreme end, they may have children who suffer with shoulder or joint issues. There's no guarantee ever that birth is going to end perfectly.
With a C-section, the risks change form a bit because of the introduction of surgical tools. The scalpel that is used to cut a woman's body open to extract the baby can also cut the baby. These injuries can be minor or major, even threatening a child's life. Though trained doctors generally know how to avoid these types of injuries, they still do occur and can lead to a child being born with lacerations that need immediate treatment.
A child born via C-section is also at risk of many of the same problems any other child. Risks of lack of oxygen, damage to joints, and other common birth injuries are still present on top of all the issues a C-section can cause.
7 Gut Issues
We need certain bacteria in our guts, and not having enough or the right kind can lead to a load of health problems. The gut-health-mind research is continuing to happen, but what we do know from recent studies is that C-sections deprive babies of a chance for good gut health right away.
When a baby comes out of mom's body, it is slathered with bacteria that will make its way into the baby's body and gut. This helps set the child up for better immunity and overall gut health.This step is obviously missed when a baby comes into the world via C-section. Without the trip down the birth canal, a child misses the all-important bacteria. This fact is so important that many patients are now asking to have a gauze placed in their V so when babies are born, the babies can be rubbed down with the gauze containing the bacteria. It doesn't offer the baby as many beneficial bacteria as a V delivery, but it's a massive improvement over none.
Sneezing, coughing, red eyes: sounds like a person with the common cold, right? It's also a description of what many kids deal with because of allergies, and being born by C-section increases the risk of a child developing allergies. In fact, babies delivered by C-section are five times as likely to develop allergies, putting them at a substantially higher risk.
Again, gut bacteria seems to be the key here. Babies who are denied access to the bacteria offered in the birth canal will not develop the same immunities as children who are exposed to it. While children can take probiotics and consume breastmilk to help aid the gut, nothing seems to be able to replicate the protection a V birth offers the gut. It's a missed opportunity that can lead to a plethora of health issues.
Food allergies, as well as seasonal allergies, are more common in kids born via C-section since food allergies are also more likely for kids with compromised immune systems. If a child has to be born by C-section, it's important for the parents to know what signs to look out for in case allergies strike, because there's a much higher chance that they will.
5 Arrives Too Early
Doctors who plan C-sections and try to calculate accurate due dates often make mistakes. They also tend to err on the side of delivering a baby early as opposed to late, and though there are some reasons that could support not going too far past the 40-week mark, there have been times when doctors have delivered babies via C-section who were not ready to leave the womb.
Many assume that babies born prematurely due to C-section would have been born too early no matter how they entered the world. In some cases, this is true. Pregnancies where mom is carrying multiples or where she has preeclampsia or other problematic conditions would lead to the arrival of an early baby in most circumstances without a C-section.
However, there have been concerns that scheduling C-sections and planning them before the 39-week mark led to babies being put in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) due to issues with their lungs. A doctor who doesn't give a baby enough time to develop in the womb is depriving that child the best start in life, and this can lead to future complications for the child.
Diabetes is prevalent, but many people are diagnosed with Type 2. A C-section increases a child's risk of Type 1, a serious condition that alters a child's life for good and has to be managed very carefully throughout life.
Why does a C-section increase the risk of diabetes? Researchers are leaning to what they blame for many C-section related illnesses: lack of good gut bacteria. They've found that those without the protective gut bacteria acquired by slipping down the birth canal are at a higher risk for Type 1 diabetes, as well as many other autoimmune diseases.If 60-80 percent of the immune system is in the gut, which is what many doctors and researchers believe, then it's no wonder that a compromised gut opens the door to immune system issues. Finding ways to establish good bacteria as soon as possible for a child born by C-section is essential.
3 Immune Compromise
Notice a pattern? Babies born by C-section are not going to have the same immune systems as babies born naturally, and since the immune system is arguably one of the most important systems in the body, this puts children born surgically at a disadvantage.
That's why swabbing babies with cloths that were put into mom's birth canal is gaining so much traction as a way to curb the rise in immune system problems. The lack of those bacteria is a problem, and nothing replicates the microbes babies pick up from mom's birth canal exactly. There are ways to introduce healthy gut flora throughout life, but that first dose from mom so early in life is key. Any way it can be achieved, even if mom can't avoid a C-section, is worth a try.When a child has to be born by C-section, it's also a good idea to watch for immune system problems in the future. At any signs or symptoms, mom and dad will know to seek a medical professional.
2 Continued Struggles
It's easy to assume that a C-section is a one time decision that won't have any repercussions once mom and baby leave the operating room. Unfortunately, research shows this isn't the case. A study found that children born via C-section were less healthy two years later than those from a V birth.
It's no wonder really. With a compromised immune system brought on by a lack of good bacteria, a child is at a higher risk for multitudes of other conditions. These conditions, such as Type 1 diabetes, food allergies, and asthma often have lifelong management plans that impact a child indefinitely. They can also open up the door to other conditions.
All C-sections are not avoidable, but researchers worry that many are and that doctors aren't trying to avoid them. With the knowledge that our kids may suffer way beyond the surgical delivery, it's a good idea to talk about the best ways to avoid a C-section if at all possible.
1 The Worst Case Scenario
It was assumed for some time that the reason babies born by C-section were more likely to die had everything to do with why they had to be delivered surgically. Were they twins who started experiencing issues with the placenta? Did mom's rising blood pressure put the baby at a higher risk for organ damage? Did the baby have a genetic anomaly that made delivery riskier?
A new study found that actually, aside from all the other factors that can lead to a C-section, a C-section in and of itself is enough to increase an infant's risk of death. A woman who undergoes a voluntary C-sections for no medical reason puts her child at a markedly higher risk of death.Researchers aren't sure why the risk is so much higher, but it's now been found that even when a child makes it through the surgery, a child born by a C-section is still more likely to pass away the first four weeks of life than one who was born naturally.
Some C-sections can't be avoided, and this surgery can absolutely be a lifesaver for moms and babies in many circumstances. However, there are risks that should be weighed before a healthy mom with no reason to have a C-section signs up for one.