One Born Every Minute
What You Need to Know About C-Sections
I’ll never forget my first C-section delivery.
I was lying on the operating table, numb from the waist down, with a curtain blocking my view of my lower half, when my doctor cut me open (bikini-friendly style, thank you very much!) and uttered the words no woman should ever have to hear, “Lift up the uterus!” And then there was this tremendous pressure of pulling and tugging, as if someone was trying to wrestle a hamburger from George Foreman. Pre-grill George Foreman. It was very scary.
These days C-section rates are climbing higher and higher. And some moms to be, known as the “too posh to push” brigade are even electing C-sections from the get go, even if it’s not medically necessary. I’m not sure this is where we should be going. If you need a C-section as an emergency intervention as in my delivery that’s one thing. But people forget that a C-section is major abdominal surgery—watch one of those Discovery channel birth films and see how many layers of skin they have to cut through, if you don’t believe me. And the recovery afterwards is pretty rough. If you never thought blinking involved your abdominal muscles, you are wrong! After a C-section, everything hurts!
So why is it that so many moms are birthing under the knife? According to national stats, 32% or one- third of all births nationally have been c- sections. This is 10 to 15% higher than the 15% C-section rate that the World Health Organization recommends. Some health care providers believe that many c-sections are medically unnecessary. And this just isn’t the “too posh to push” crew pushing up the rates, a recent survey by Childbirth Connection revealed that only 1 in every 1,600 C- section births were actually planned for no “medical reason”!
Of course, “medical reason” is subjective to a doctor and we all know that physicians and hospitals get paid more for a C-section delivery than a vaginal birth. A study done on California hospitals revealed that C-sections comprised of 9% of births in non- profit hospitals while making up a whopping 47% of births in for- profit hospitals. Hmmm, something to think about. In fact, there’s a lot to think about. And since you are more likely to have a C-section than ever before, you should educate yourself just in case. Here are few reasons why a C-section may be medically necessary:
- You've already had a C-section in another pregnancy or other surgeries on your uterus.
- Your baby is too big to pass safely through the vagina.
- The baby is “breech”, that is, the buttocks or feet enter the birth canal first, instead of the head.
- The baby's shoulder enters the birth canal first, instead of the head. This is called a transverse position.
- There are problems with the placenta. This is the organ that nourishes your baby in the womb. Problems with the placenta can cause dangerous bleeding during a vaginal birth.
- Labor is too slow or stops.
- The baby's umbilical cord slips into the vagina, where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal delivery. This is called umbilical cord prolapse
- You're having twins, triplets or (gasp!) more
- The baby has problems during labor that show it is under stress, such as a slow heart rate. This is sometimes called “fetal distress.”
- You have a serious medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Before you think C-section means easy delivery, carefully consider the risks and benefits for your baby and yourself.
After my C-section, I experienced the biggest disappointment of my childbirth experience: I could not hold my baby because the anesthesia from the surgery made the shivering cold and my hands were literally shaking. I had to watch my mom, my sister and everyone else hold my baby and have them bring her close to me, but I couldn’t hold her for hours. That, ladies, was devastating.
C-sections do have their place, but every mom-to-be deserves the full picture. If your doctor recommends a C-section delivery, ask, Why do I need to have a c-section? What problems can a c-section cause for me and my baby? Will I need to have a c-section in future pregnancies?
Get all the facts.