In the United States and Canada, almost one in four babies is born by an operation called cesarean section. Consumer and medical groups alike, have expressed concern over the rising numbers of cesarean sections. Yet, many families seem to believe that a cesarean is just another way to have a baby. Are there definite disadvantages to a surgical birth? It’s time to look at some important facts about cesareans.
Why are there so many cesareans?
Researchers have listed many reasons for the high number of cesarean sections. Reasons include a difficult or long labor, fetal distress, when the baby is not arriving head first, placental problems. Additional reasons are other conditions in the mother such as toxemia, diabetes and severe bleeding, a greater use of technology such as electronic fetal monitoring and one or more previous cesareans. Some reasons are valid; others are not necessarily beneficial for the mother or the baby.
Cesareans save lives, don’ t they?
Of course they do, when they are absolutely medically necessary. They also have risks and side effects that can physically affect the mother and her baby right away and can change the relationship between mother, infant and family by adding more and different stresses than those following a normal vaginal birth.
A cesarean can prevent the pain of labor and birth.
That’s an interesting thought, but cesarean mothers usually have much more pain after their babies are born. After all, a cesarean is major surgery where several layers of body tissue are cut open and then repaired. This certainly makes it difficult to move, walk, urinate, and to hold and feed a newborn for at least several days or even weeks afterward. Mothers often need much medicine to cope with the constant pain following a cesarean. Gas pains, which can be severe, and a sensation of one’s insides falling out are also quite common. Other discomforts include an itching or oozing at the incision area and a general feeling of exhaustion.
In addition, cesareans carry all the same risks of major abdominal surgery including:
~ Excessive loss of blood ~ Blood clots
~ Blood transfusion complications ~ Injury to baby
~ Death related to surgery ~ Pneumonia
~ Adhesions (scar tissue) within the abdominal cavity
~ Injury to nearby organs (bladder, bowel)
~ Infections of: the uterus, the bladder, the wound (incision)
Major complications, such as death following a cesarean, are rare. Others such as infections, are more common. When a cesarean is a possibility, you need to know about these risks. You should also find out about the possibility of even suspected long-term risks such as infertility, due to scar tissue. At the very least, recovery from a cesarean section takes longer, since mothers are usually in more pain and more tired afterward. Mothers also need more support physically and emotionally than those who give birth vaginally.