Mamas on Bedrest: Not all C-Sections are bad

January 24th, 2014



My daughter at birth

Having a c-section is not the worst thing that can happen to you. I say this from the perspective of having had 2. While chatting with mamas in this community, one mama stated how she is terrified at the thought of having a c-section. I realized that c-sections have become demonized in the birth world and this is not a good thing.

On this blog, all over the web there and in numerous chats there are articles and points of view touting “normal”  and “natural” (meaning vaginal) delivery. I’ll admit that I am a proponent of minimal intervention. Having went through what I went through to have my children, I know the potential pitfalls of too much intervention. Intervention must be balanced with “watch and wait” and not overdone. Even though labor and delivery is a marathon process, there are many physiologic benefits for mamas and babies who endure the process and emerge victorious on the other side. So for women who can, I most certainly advocate for “natural, vaginal birth”  whenever possible.

Well, the sad truth is that this isnt always possible. Many years ago, many women (and babies) died as a result of being unable to deliver “naturally” and doctors and midwives of the day not having the skills or technique of cesarean section. Thankfully (for me and my daughter at least) clinicians have those skills and expertise and many mamas and babies are alive today. But what is a very viable and useful method of delivery and one that saves lives in critical situations has become an overused, overdone process. Cesarean sections are the second most performed surgery in the US second only to Hysterectoies. And while they are a critical tool in the obstetrical arsenal, their overuse has contributed to many mamas and babies are not faring so well during the childbirth process.

Currently cesarean sections account for a full one third of all births in the United States. According to the CDC, rates of C-section deliveries-especially first time c-section deliveries-have leveled off and are declining. This is good news because a first c-section is often an indication for subsequent c-sections. C-sections are often scheduled for the following reasons and these indications are responsible for 85% of all cesarean deliveries:

  • “large babies”
  • uterine/placental/vaginal issues,
  • fetal distress or shoulder dystocia
  • breech presentation
  • The leading indication for cesarean delivery is previous cesarean delivery

I doubt anyone would argue the necessity of a cesarean section for a mama and/or baby in distress; i.e. mama’s blood pressure skyrocketing and not responding to medication, a decrease in fetal heart rate, decreased fetal movement which may indicate a problem, or other complication. But in this country, c-section has (or had) become the norm for twins, mamas who have gone beyond 39 weeks (as late as 42 weeks is still considered full term!), induction (a whole other topic for a blog in and of itself!), “big baby” and several other “nebulous” reasons. C-sections became a way to “control” birth and to be able to dictate specifically when a baby would be born and who would be attending.

That is where we here in the US fell into problems. Birth is a wild and unpredictable process. Because we can never be exactly sure when conception and implantation occur (except in cases of assisted reproductive technology), clinicians really are guessing the age and developmental status of an infant in utero. Granted, we have some very sophisticated technology that we can use now and get a pretty accurate “guestimate”. But we are still guessing, and sometimes the guesses are off way more that expected. there also seems to be this need to control the process. Birth should not be controlled. It is as it is for a reason; so that mama’s and baby’s physiologies can interplay and together navigate the birth process. That process, that delicate physiologic communication is disrupted when clinicians intervene. Again, sometimes intervention is waranted. But historically in the US, the interventions are often more disruptive than beneficial.

So what should a mama do? How does she decide? Mamas, always have frank and open discussions about your care with your health care providers. Ask them what they hope to accomplish by performing a cesarean section and why they believe it is the best course of action in your particular case. Get as much information as you can; read, get second opinions if you feel uneasy. Make sure that in the end, whatever route of delivery you choose, you are comfortable with the decisions made and the procedures being performed.

Not all c-sections are bad. Many are lifesaving (as was the case with me and my daughter!). Just be sure that you are fully informed and fully at peace with your decision for the procedure before you signed the “informed consent”.  Remorse and regret following a birth that has not gone well can haunt a mama for years. It can have lifelong (negative) implications for the baby. And sadly, it cab alter the interaction between mama and child if not just initially, for many years to come.

What are your thoughts of C-section? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below.

2 responses to “Mamas on Bedrest: Not all C-Sections are bad”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    You are right. Not all C-Sections are bad, they have saved many lives.

    However, it’s still in your best interest to stay aware and informed about how necessary your C-Section is.

    I personally believe that all moms should research C-Sections, understand why they occur and what your options are. It’s often the mom that’s caught off guard that has the hardest time dealing with remorse.

    Thanks for your post 🙂


  2. Darline says:

    You are absolutely right! I always encourage mamas to be WELL INFORMED about any and all proposed procedures and treatments and to signed nothing until they can absolutely give INFORMED CONSENT!!! What really miffs me is when a mama is not informed of a potential complication or options for treatment until its time to treat. By that time she is so frantic she’ll sign anything! This is not the way to make health care choices for onesself or for ones family.

    Thank you for your comment and for checking out my blog!

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