Caesarian sections have been around since, well, the days of Caesar. The number of women delivering babies via c-section has been steadily rising over recent years. Once used primarily as the last resort for a difficult vaginal labor or for emergency situations such as preeclampsia, c-sections have now become just another detail in the birth plan.
Some busy women are scheduling c-sections for the convenience and control of knowing when they will deliver. Others say that having a c-section will preserve bladder control. If you are considering an elective c-section for your birth plan, you may want to think twice. Here are some points to consider.
Longer Hospital Stay
The hospital stay for women who deliver via c-section versus vaginally is about double. Woman who deliver vaginally are discharged within two days, while those who have a c-section are in the hospital for an average of four to five days.
Short-Term Solution for Incontinence
For those women who want to avoid incontinence due to pelvic floor relaxation (often seen after vaginal births), data shows that c-sections only seem to protect bladder function on a short-term basis. By the time women reach their 50s, those who had c-sections and those who gave birth vaginally have the same rate of incontinence.
It may cost you more cash. Many insurance providers don't cover elective c-sections, and since c-sections are surgical and require more hospital staff, they are naturally more expensive. In fact, women who give birth at a for-profit versus non-profit hospital are 17% more likely to have a c-section due to doctors wanting to "cash-in," according to California Watch.
Risks to Mother
These days we tend to think of surgery as an easy fix for so many of our problems or concerns. We tend to forget that surgery is a life-threatening procedure, no matter how routine. Having a c-section means a longer recovery time, surgical risks such as infections, bleeding, and complications from anesthesia including pneumonia. There is an increased risk of blood clots, a higher chance of needing an emergency hysterectomy, and a higher incidence of a return trip to the hospital. C-sections leave the mother open for damage to her bowels and bladder, to increased blood loss and the need for a blood transfusion, as well as a higher risk of maternal death.
Increased Risks to Babies
C-sections leave babies at risk for a variety of complications. Babies who are delivered by c-section are placed in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) more often and have more respiratory problems and a greater need for oxygen therapy than vaginally-delivered babies. C-section babies are also at a higher risk for surgical cuts and complications with breast-feeding. In addition, these children have lower Apgar scores. Apgar stands for Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration, and is given to your baby immediately after birth, five minutes after birth and ten minutes after birth if necessary.Infant mortality rates are also higher for voluntary c-sections versus vaginal delivery.
Furthermore, a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences shows that babies born via c-section are more likely to have immune-related problems such as asthma and allergies due to different bacteria on their skin, noses and mouths versus children born vaginally who cultured Lactobacillus, bacteria which aid in milk digestion and produce vitamin K, essential for blood clotting. Finally, c-sections have twice the risk of infant mortality.
There are a multitude of reasons to have and not to have a c-section, so be sure to talk with your doctor about all of the pros and cons in order to make an educated and safe decision for you and your baby.