Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A C-Section could NEVER happen to Me, Right???

I am happy to share an article written by a fellow c-section blogger, Elizabeth. If you're looking for more information on c-sections, you should consider checking out her site on having a Worry Free C-Section. She has a lot of info. on what to expect during the delivery, as well as complications that can arise, how insurance handles c-sections, and many other informative articles that I wish I had read before having my first c-section.

The following is written by Elizabeth McGee at

Not expecting to deliver by c-section? Ah, but you could!

One of the most amazing statistics today is the one surrounding the birth of your baby.
What I'm referring to is having a c-section birth.

According to, nearly 32% of all births results in C-Section.That means that you have about a 1 in 3 chance of having a c-section.

Why is that?

To accurately answer this question, it helps to know why a c-section is necessary. The four most common medical reasons for having a c-section birth are repeat c sections, failure of labor to progress, breech presentation and fetal distress.

There has also been a decline in VBAC births (vaginal birth after c-section), due in part to hospitals and physicians banning VBACs based on cost concerns and fear of liability.

In addition we're also seeing more moms electing to have a c-section due to convenience and/or the fear of the pain of childbirth.

Most first time moms don't typically plan on having a c-section unless her health or the health of her baby is at risk. However for a healthy first time mom a c-section may never come into question until after many hours of labor.

So what does this mean for you as a pregnant mom?

It means that you should be ready for the possibility of having a c-section.

It's almost impossible to predict whether a woman will experience failure to progress or encounter fetal distress during labor but these are two very common scenarios.

But more importantly, you should also understand why c-sections are performed and what your options may be based on medical conditions at the time.

Having a c-section doesn't have to be a horrible event, but there can be high anxiety and moments of fear if a c-section is unexpected.

My advice to you is to clearly understand why a c-section may be necessary, what you can do to possibly prevent one and have a plan in the event it is necessary. Understanding what can happen during a c-section,and making decisions about medical options such as anesthesia,breastfeeding and medications can make a big difference not only in the birthing experience itself but in your bonding with baby and recovery as well.

C-sections are often a very necessary procedure and if there comes a time when it's the best option for you, you'll be less stressed and much more at ease if you’re are first prepared.

By Elizabeth McGee at


  1. I think it stands to be noted that no other modern country in the world has the level of c-sections we have and that "failure to progress" is not an actual medical diagnosis.

    C-sections are, in fact, RARELY necessary, but often performed in America because, plain and simple, we're sue happy and now we've gotten ourselves in a position where doctors have to make unhealthy choices for us because we sue them too much.

    1. I know that this comment is really old but your comment is actually a personal pet peeve.
      Australia has about the same cesarean rate as well as China and Italy have higher rates then the USA. We also all know that Brazil has a higher rate with some hospitals being as high as 80% but a certain amount of those are just because it's a quite way to get a tubal ligation with less paper work.
      We have seen a significant drop in stillbirth,HIE and other complications not to mention that intrapartum(during labor) death is almost non-existent in modern hospitals barring congenital defects. All of these have come along with the rise in cesareans, EFM, and other modern technologies.
      Failure to progress is a description because the actually cause is internal. If a woman deviates DRASTICALLY from the usual labor curve generally we can assume something is abnormal within the process. In many countries they use forceps in a lot of these situations but in the US the common consensus is that the surgery is less damaging to the maternal pelvis.

  2. Hi Morgan,
    thanks for posting this!
    Have you seen "the business of being born"? it's a documentary that I found very interesting, and a little disturbing..
    At some point they quote a search about when babies are born, and statistic shows there is a peak of c-section on lunch break and on evenings! Same in the week repartition, there is less and less babies born on Sundays!!

  3. I haven't watched it, but I have heard a lot about it. It doesn't suprise me at all that there is a peak of c-sections during lunch time and around the end of a work day. I imagine fridays and mondays are pretty popular too.

    It's no wonder with so many inductions. Induction starts over sunday night or monday morning, no progress all day, doctor comes in before going home for the night and does the c-section. Sound about right?

    It seems to me, that if you want to avoid a c-section you need to:

    *not be induced
    *labor at home for a while
    *know your options as a patient of what you can refuse
    *walk and change positions as needed
    *choose a midwife or doctor who has a low rate of c-section births and is supportive of your birth plan

    Even still, you can end up with a c-section. When preparing for giving birth, I think it's a good idea to know what's involved in a c-section and know what your options are.

    Otherwise, you end up like I did with my first baby. I had an unplanned c-section. No one held the baby up to show me him, I had no idea what was going on with all the shaking and numbness in up to my face (I ended up really scared), and then my baby was taken to the nursery for an hour while I was recovering.

    Had I at least researched c-section options during my first pregnancy, I could have known that what was happening to me was normal. My husband could have kept our baby with us instead of him being taken away. We really just didn't know about any of our choices.

    No matter what kind of childbirth you're planning, it doesn't hurt to at least find out what to do if a c-section does happen.

    As to c-sections happening way to often in the U.S., I totally agree. However, I also believe that many babies and mothers HAVE been saved from having a c-section. Almost everyone has a grandma or great-grandma that lost a baby during childbirth, or lost their own life. I don't know anyone from my generation or my parents that has lost a baby for any reason other than genetic or in the womb problems unrelated to childbirth itself. I have never known of any women who have died during childbirth other than ones I've heard of that sought no medical treatment whatsoever.

    So although I agree with you 100% that c-sections are WAY overdone in the U.S. and most of the time totally unnecessary, however I believe that it's not quite so rare that a life has been saved from having a c-section.

  4. Lots of interesting comments already! Your friend writes, "My advice to you is to clearly understand why a c-section may be necessary, what you can do to possibly prevent one" and I totally agree. Here are some resources that might be helpful:

    "Recent studies reaffirm earlier World Health Organization recommendations about optimal cesarean section rates. The best outcomes for mothers and babies appear to occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good (Althabe and Belizan 2006)." from "Why Does the National US Cesarean Section Rate Keep Going Up?" (Childbirth Connections) - This excellent article has information about the reasons for our country's rising cesarean rate.

    Childbirth Connections also has a terrific pdf called "What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section" which can be accessed here:

    Here is an article by the acclaimed doula, Penny Simkin, "Ideas for the Best Cesarean Possible" -

    And here is an article by Dr. Robert Oliver, "The Ideal Cesarean Birth":

  5. Thank you for the links Christina!

    And thanks for all your comments ladies!

  6. While the US C-section rates are puzzling, I have spent a considerable amount of time investigating the history of obstetrics for my series, "The Nefarious History of Motherhood."

    The rates of maternal death over the millennia seem to have been pretty steady at about 6/1000 deliveries--until the 1950s, when a massive effort was undertaken to bring that down. In the US, the current maternal mortality is 0.1/1000 deliveries.

    Although the advent of antibiotics and asepsis obviously had some impact, most scholars attribute the massive decrease in maternal deaths to the interventional use of C-sections.

    So revile it all you like. But remember, it's a life saver when it's necessary.

    Some scholars attribute the high incidence to the appalling lack of prenatal care in America. Others site the increased use of epidurals, which may make it hard for moms to push out their babies.

    I know a large number of obstetricians, and have done my time on maternity wards myself. I find it hard to believe that the enitire incidence is due to greed or sloth on the part of the physicians, as is so often implied. More likely, the failure to communicate the reasons and necessities makes the doctors seem impersonal.

    Posts like this one are a good way to open up the debate, and to remind women that there are occasions, often unforeseen, which will require a section.


  7. I had a patient the other day who told me that she read and read about labor...but the usual "what to expect" books did not prepare her for having a c/s.

    This is a wonderful service you are doing for women.



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