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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

I am going to talk about c-sections today.

If you are sensitive to posts about c-sections or birth, you might want to skip this one.

I keep being reminded that I don't need to rationalize my feelings or thoughts, but this time I think I do.  This post is not to offend anyone or make anyone feel bad.  If you had a c-section that you are happy with, this post is not for you.  If you had a c-section because of the health of you or your baby, this isn't for you.  If you had a c-section because of infertility or loss and you just wanted a live baby, this post is *not* for you.

Now with that being said . . . I had a c-section with Johnathon.  My experience was traumatic.  I don't use that word lightly.  I know friends who have had way more traumatic experiences than I have, but to me, my c-section wasn't a good time.

It was decided, after 28 1/2 hours of painful induced labor, that I needed a c-section for "failure to progress".  That was changed later in my records to "brow presentation".  I was eventually able to come to terms with that birth because I was told there was no other way for him to come out.  "Ok" I thought.  "It wasn't my fault."  There wasn't any other way for him to be born right???  That is what they said.  I had infertility issues, a painful loss and wanted a live baby.  I probably would have let them cut off my legs to have Johnathon.  I didn't realize that he *could* have been born another way until I met the precious lady I call my midwife.  Only mine.  No one else's.  :)

I met her at a childbirth educator class and she told me that she had homebirths with her last two births and one was brow presentation.  What?????  I was interested and crushed all at the same time.  I knew there wasn't anything that I could do about J's birth now, but I wanted to know more.

Anyway....that is another story all together.  Back to the c-section.  When they told me that I would have to have a c-section I said ok, after fighting it for about four hours.  Never was I told any of the risks or complications that might occur.  I knew some of them.  I had tried to educate myself to the best of my ability.  I knew having a child surgically removed from one's belly wasn't the best way of doing it, but I didn't know the half of it.  

Do you know what informed consent is?  I didn't.  Informed consent ensures that patients or clients are aware of the risks involved in a particular treatment or procedure.

Basically doctors are supposed to tell you all of the risks of any procedure they want to do to you.  I wasn't told any.

What are the risks of having a c-section?  They are many.
 The information below was found on
  • Infection: Infection can occur at the incision site, in the uterus and in other pelvic organs such as the bladder.
  • Hemorrhage or increased blood loss: There is more blood loss in a cesarean delivery than with a vaginal delivery. This can lead to anemia or a blood transfusion.
  • Injury to organs: Possible injury to organs such as the bowel or bladder
  • Adhesions: Scar tissue may form inside the pelvic region causing blockage and pain. Adhesions can also lead to future pregnancy complications such as placenta previa or placental abruption.
  • Extended hospital stay: After a cesarean, the normal stay in the hospital is 3-5 days after the birth, if there are no complications.
  • Extended recovery time: The amount of time needed for recovery after a cesarean can range from weeks to months. Extended recovery can have an impact on bonding time with your baby (1 in 14 report incisional pain six months or more after surgery4).
  • Reactions to medications: There can be a negative reaction to the anesthesia given during a cesarean or negative reaction to pain medication given after the procedure.
  • Risk of additional surgeries: Includes possible hysterectomy, bladder repair or another cesarean.
  • Maternal mortality: The maternal mortality rate for a cesarean is higher than with a vaginal birth.
  • Emotional reactions: Some women who have had a cesarean report feeling negatively about their birth experience and may have trouble with initial bonding with their baby.

Risks and Complications for the Baby:

  • Premature birth: If gestational age was not calculated correctly, a baby delivered by cesarean could be delivered too early and have low birth weight.
  • Breathing problems: When delivered by cesarean, a baby is more likely to have breathing and respiratory problems. Some studies show the existence of greater need for assistance with breathing and immediate care after a cesarean than with a vaginal delivery.
  • Low APGAR scores: Low APGAR scores can be the result of anesthesia, fetal distress before the delivery or lack of stimulation during delivery (Vaginal birth provides natural stimulation to the baby while in the birth canal). Babies born by cesarean are 50% more likely to have lower APGAR scores than those born vaginally.
  • Fetal injury: Very rarely, the baby may be nicked or cut during the incision.
 Researchers have also talked about an increase in miscarriage risk after a c-section.  That is a lot to think about before having an elective c-section.  Right?  

All I am saying is, again, you should educate yourself about everything before subjecting your body and your baby to something that could potentially be harmful.  I am very thankful for c-sections when they are needed.  I know many women with real medical reasons why a c-section was indicated and everyone is thankful that the option was available.  

Having a c-section is major abdominal surgery.  It isn't something that should be taken lightly.  It shouldn't be used so a doctor can make it home for supper, used as an elective procedure because a sonogram past 24 weeks says the baby will be huge, or because a mother doesn't want to feel pain during labor.  

It should be used selectively to save lives.  Period.

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