Ask most new moms whether they would prefer a cesarean section over a vaginal delivery and most will say no. However, there are a few of us that would say otherwise, mainly because the sound of pushing a baby out is scary.
In the early 2000s, celebrities were choosing cesarean births over vaginal births because it would ensure a baby’s smooth round head and preservation of their lady bits. It also was a way for them to plan when and where they delivered with the least amount of pain experienced possible. This promoted the belief that maybe cesarean sections were preferable or even better! And if you weren’t delivering by cesarean then you were most definitely getting an epidural. The popularity of interventions and medicated deliveries were on an upswing at this time.
In 2011, 1 in 3 women delivered via cesarean section.¹
Now fast forward to 2017, when we’re finding our way back to natural vaginal deliveries. With the increasing realization that with more interventions comes more negative side effects and bad outcomes. We’re learning this same lesson in regards to farming practices, the overuse of plastics, pollution, contamination, and destruction. We’re finding that when we mess with something, we hurt in the end.
But, hey, we’re talking about why “C-Sections Are Not The End of The World” and it’s true, they’re not. Cesarean sections are absolutely necessary for many instances and thankfully we have this option. Cesarean sections have been successfully saving lives since around the 1940s. They are routine procedures, done very systematically and comprise 23-40% of the deliveries in the United States (depending on the state).¹ There are numerous policies, procedures, and governing bodies dedicated to maintaining the safety of cesarean sections. They’re fast, efficient and effective at delivering a baby when other methods are not possible.
In terms of outcomes, a cesarean section done when medically necessary, resulting in a healthy mother and baby, is always the best outcome.
Determining medical necessity is when things get gray and fuzzy. Having worked in labor and delivery in the hospital setting, I’ve seen a number of reasons which deem a cesarean section as medically necessary. In an emergency scenario, a cesarean section could potentially save lives not “end worlds”. When well-being is the priority, it is hard to justify a vaginal delivery being the only desirable outcome.
A few reasons a c-section might be necessary:
- Baby is breech. You can deliver a breech baby, but it’s quite dangerous. The reason being: the head is delivered last when the cervix starts to contract. If the head gets stuck, there are very few ways to get them out.
- Fetal distress: the heartbeat may be out of the range of normal or amniotic fluid may be green or brown
- Maternal exhaustion
- Maternal distress or other maternal complications
- Fetal head not descending and cervix not dilating for more than 6 hours with good contractions.
- Maternal choice
- Labor deemed too dangerous because of maternal health conditions.
- Previous c-sections (depending)
- Placenta location
Our bodies are capable of vaginal deliveries. VERY capable. With the help of preparation classes, doulas, support teams, medical providers, facilities and determination, a vaginal birth is expected. But it’s not a guarantee. The more variables we add to labor, such as epidurals, oxytocin, constant fetal monitoring, lack of positional changes in labor, obesity, and high-risk conditions, the greater the possibility of a cesarean delivery.
I don’t want you to be afraid of that possibility.
It is not the end of the world. In fact, it is just the beginning of your whole new life as a mother. One full of compromises, understandings, forgoing your desires for the best of your baby. I do not want your measure of success to be based on whether or not you had a vaginal delivery. It’s okay to have c-section. We all give birth the way that is best for us and our babies. Your best birth, whatever that looks like, should be your focus and your mantra. The Pregnancy Prep completely covers cesarean deliveries and vaginal deliveries equally and tells you exactly what you can expect during both.
¹Hamilton BE, Hoyert DL, Martin JA, Strobino DM, Guyer B. Annual summary of vital statistics: 2010-2011. Pediatrics 2013;131:548–58.