Elective C-Sections on the Rise
The Fear Factor
Another reason for electing a Cesarean for non-medical reasons is the fear of giving birth. Jacki Shaw, mother of two, says she had no intention of giving birth naturally. “Why have all that prolonged pain when you can have your baby in 45 minutes? I feel that if I am less stressed then my baby is less stressed, and as far as I am concerned that is good news all around,” says Shaw.
Barnard agrees wholeheartedly. “I originally decided upon an elective Cesarean because I am a bit of a baby when it comes to pain—I was afraid I would not be able to handle childbirth and was so worried about all the things that could go wrong.”
It’s important to remember that abdominal surgery itself is painful, and women considering this method of childbirth as a way to avoid the pain of a vaginal birth could be in for an unpleasant experience. Pain following a C-section can be considerably more intense and last significantly longer than the discomforts commonly experienced after a vaginal birth.
Avoiding the Negatives of Natural Birth
Some women who opt for a C-section—and their supportive physicians—believe that they will avoid long-term health problems, such as severe tissue tearing, sexual dysfunction, or incontinence that can accompany or follow labor and vaginal delivery (although some research suggests that the physical trauma of pregnancy alone can increase a woman’s risk of bladder and bowel control problems).
Other women who have had a prior traumatic natural birth are unwilling to risk repeating the experience. Debi Moore’s first child was born by emergency cesarean 11 days after her due date. Debi had three failed inductions and suffered from PUPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy—an uncomfortable, itchy rash) and preeclampsia, and finally endured the pain of a facial presentation. She describes it as being a “miserable experience,” and opted for an elective Cesarean with her second child. “A C-section is definitely not the easy way out, but for us it just made sense,” she says. When it comes to making this choice for yourself, as with all decisions that affect your health and that of your baby, be sure research the pros and cons of C-sections thoroughly.
Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section (VBAC)
Another reason that some women opt for a surgical birth is that they have had one or more C-sections previously. Although the thinking used to be “once a C-section, always a C-section,” studies now indicate that VBACs are less dangerous to mother the and child than had been feared. Research sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development tracked the birth experiences of 46,000 women who had a previous cesarean delivery and found that with improved abdominal surgical techniques, VBAC is safer than ever before. In 1981, only three percent of subsequent births to mothers with one prior C-section were performed vaginally, while by 1998, the number had increased to 31 percent.
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