C-Sections: Changing the Discussion
Ask nearly any healthcare provider, and they’ll tell you that vaginal birth is preferable to cesarean birth, with the exception of emergency situations, for both the health of the mother and the baby. Ask a mom who has had both a vaginal and a cesarean delivery and they’ll likely tell you their recovery was easier with the vaginal delivery. Ask the World Health Organization and they’ll say that the ideal rate of cesarean births is right around 10% (a minuscule number compared to the current rate in the U.S. which hovers right around 30%).
For so long, the conversation has been all about reducing cesarean rates, encouraging patients to choose vaginal birth, and raising VBAC rates. These are great initiatives, but they leave out an important piece. Clearly, people are choosing cesareans at least some of the time, and that trend doesn’t seem to be reversing anytime soon.
What if we focus on reducing the health impact of a cesarean delivery? For those who choose cesarean delivery for their own personal reasons, and for those who end up with emergency cesareans despite the best efforts of themselves and their practitioner - one in every three pregnant patients are undergoing this procedure, and roughly 30% of children are entering the world via cesarean. Surely they deserve a conversation about how to mitigate the adverse effects of cesarean delivery.
The obvious risks of infection, hemorrhage, and adverse reactions to anesthesia lie in the realm of hospital procedures to address - and most places are doing a great job of making the actual procedure safer for the baby and their parent. The long-term lingering issues are where there seems to be vast potential for improvement. Many postpartum patients suffer from pain at the incision site for years after the procedure. Subsequent pregnancies are often complicated by scar tissue contributing to round ligament pain and other structurally-based dysfunctions. Babies delivered via cesarean section miss out on the cranial molding benefits of passing through the birth canal. They may be delivered in ways that put strain on the delicate newborn skull and spine, potentially resulting in minor structural dysfunctions that can have major impacts - from torticollis to nursing difficulties - some babies may suffer needlessly for years to come.
What if the majority of these long-term effects could be solved with a relatively simple, proactive, cesarean recovery plan?
In our next post we will discuss the basics of what should comprise a cesarean recovery plan both for you and for your baby.