Saturday, January 5, 2008

What Are the Risks of Cesarean Section?

What are the risks of having a Cesarean section? …The risk of having two, even three C-sections? …For the mother, for the baby?

What are the risks of vaginal birth? …For the mother, for the baby?

If you are the typical American woman wondering about these questions, you’ll probably ask your doctor, perhaps check out a few resources online and see what the most popular pregnancy guide book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has to say. You might even ask your childbirth educator about c-sections, and she would probably help you feel more prepared for it, by explaining when it is likely to happen and how you may feel about it if/when it happens to you.

Hearing women talk about cesareans has often made me wonder exactly what the average pregnant woman does and doesn’t know about having a c-section when she walks into the hospital to give birth. I’m on a mission to find out…

Is she adequately informed of the risks? Does she have a clear idea of the risks and benefits? Does she know as much about this procedure on her and her baby’s body as she does about purchasing her new car and comparing models?

I checked out What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and no where in its 437 pages could I find even one paragraph informing mothers of the potential risks for themselves when undergoing Cesarean delivery. The most I found for mothers was information on what a C-section would be like and how to be calm as you were wheeled back to the operating room for an emergency c-section, and then what recovery would entail – pain around the incision, possibly nausea and vomiting, possibly referred shoulder pain for a few hours and possible constipation, then it should be 4-6 weeks before you feel completely back to normal.

And this quote to put everyone’s fears to rest –

Question: “My doctor told me I will have to have a cesarean. But I’m afraid the surgery will be dangerous.”

Answer: “Today…cesareans are nearly as safe as vaginal deliveries for the mother, and in difficult deliveries or when there’s fetal distress, they are often the safest mode of delivery for the baby. Even though its technically called major surgery, a cesarean carries relatively minor risks – much closer to those of a tonsillectomy than of a gall bladder operation, for instance.”

Hmmmm…I’ve heard a few other things about cesareans recently. I’ll post them here as I get a chance…


SheGotHipsLikeCinderella said...

Wow about checking out the International Cesarean Awareness Network(ICAN)
You can find a lot of info about cesareans and vaginal birth in the book Silent Knife by Nancy Wainer and Lois Estner. Henci Goer's Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth is also a great book that compares risks.

ICAN of Cape Atlantic said...

Perhaps we need to write a book about "What to expect from a cesarean while you are expecting"

ICAN has great resources. Feel free to link to my blog if you would like to stay current with what is happening in the cesarean world.

The books above are informative reads!

VBAC Lady said...

I'll tell you, there is no end to the damage that is done by books like WTEWYE and the childbirth classes that "reassure" moms that all will be well. Instead, these just add to the myth.

Like so many other typical moms, I went with the status quo the first time around, and even though the thought of surgery was frightening to me, I assumed everything would be ok if it happened to me.

In terms of the surgery, all went well. But what was unpredicted was the PPD and PTSD I experienced afterwards. I had been lead to believe that depression only occured in moms with high expectations of a vaginal birth, and that's not who I had been. I assumed for a long time that i was crazy because it didn't seem like anyone else understood. Then I found ICAN... (yep, another ICAN mom here :) )

Great blog - Keep doing what you're doing!

Kimberly said...

That's one scarily inadequate book, I'd say!
~ labortrials

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