Cesarean – it’s major surgery

I went to a conference recently that focused on how to reduce the number of cesarean deliveries in the U.S.  Nurses, docs and other health professionals attended and it was very interesting.  It became apparent that many women ask their provider to schedule a cesarean delivery for convenience or to avoid the pains of childbirth. Our focus was about how to convince women that cesarean has risks and, unless there is a problem, it’s better for mom and baby to stay the course and deliver vaginally.

Concern about pain is usually not a good reason to request c-section. Safe and effective pain management methods are available to help women cope with vaginal delivery. Some of these methods use drugs; others are drug-free.

Having your baby early, even if it’s just by a week or two, can make a difference in your baby’s health. For example, the brain and lungs are still growing. And there are some risks to a baby associated with mom receiving anesthesia.  A c-section may affect the health of your future pregnancies, too. That’s because there’s a greater risk of pregnancy complications,  such as placenta previa, with every c-section you have.

It takes 4 to 6 weeks or longer to fully recover from a c-section. Recovery from a vaginal birth is shorter. Also, the hospital stay for a vaginal birth is 2 days. But with a c-section, you’ll probably stay 3 to 4 days in the hospital.  This may prove more expensive, especially if your health plan does not cover cesarean for non-medical reasons.

If you’ve already had a c-section and are pregnant again, talk to your provider about having a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). There are several medical reasons for repeat cesarean delivery,  but for many women, a VBAC can be a healthy, safe choice for birth.

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2 Responses to “Cesarean – it’s major surgery”

  1. Melissa Bear Says:

    What were the stats on requests for C/S for convenience or to avoid pain? All the stats I have seen around this have been minimal. The issue seems to be more medical professionals performing them when they perhaps have another option. Did this come up?

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Hi Melissa – I can’t give you stats on that, but I can tell you that there was also PLENTY of discussion about medical professionals encouraging c-sections when, as you say, there might have been other options. This was a good conference that brought focus to the importance of reducing c-sections whenever possible, from patient and provider’s perspective.

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