Should I Have an Elective C-Section?

In recent years, many women have opted to book in for elective C-sections when making a birth planning for their baby. There are various reasons for choosing a cesarean birth, the most common being that Mom-to-be may be anxious about the lack of control associated with a traditional labor, or the fact that C-sections generally provide Moms-to-be with more control over when their baby is born.

However, as major abdominal surgery, opting for a C-section isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It is important that you weigh up all the risks when deciding to choose this option over a vaginal birth, considering how they balance out with the benefits to you and your baby.

It is worth remembering:

  • A C-section birth is certainly not the easy way out. A cesarean birth comes with a higher risk of complications than a traditional vaginal birth including a higher risk of blood loss, organ damage and infection. Whilst some of these may be minor, untreated infections can lead to serious complications such as sepsis, which can be life critical.
  • C-sections also come with a longer recovery period, with most women taking around 6 weeks after a cesarean birth to fully recover and regain full mobility. You may need more assistance post birth than you would otherwise with a traditional labor – so depending on what support you have at home, you may find those early weeks with a newborn more physically challenging.

Despite some Moms experiencing negativity around choosing cesarean births and the cruel claims of ‘too posh to push’; there are various instances where Moms should consider having an elective section:

  • Birth Anxiety – Some Moms to be can experience severe anxiety about a vaginal birth including the thought of complications, the pain endured, loss of control and its unpredictable or extended nature. In this instance, where the level of anxiety is likely to cause Mom a significant amount of distress, a cesarean birth may be deemed the more suitable option for a Mom’s mental health.
  • Multiple Birth (such as twins) – When experiencing more than one baby, your medical team may recommend a cesarean birth – as this is often deemed the safest and quickest way to ensure both babies are born quickly, without any distress.
  • Previous birth difficulties (or traumatic birth experience) – If you have previously had an emergency cesarean due to complications (or needed significant assistance in later stages of labor due to a baby becoming stuck or slow to progress), the team may decide a C-section is recommended. Whilst it is possible to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean, 90% of women who have had one, go on to have another with future pregnancies. 
  • If you have a large baby or baby is in an abnormal or breech position – If your baby is expected to have a high birth weight, or is not in the optimum birth position, a C-section may be recommended to avoid physical trauma to Mom during the labor itself. Whilst vaginal breech births are possible (and attempts can be made to turn them pre labor), a baby who is breach or back-to-back during labor can make births far more painful, longer and with a higher risk of tearing or episiotomy.
  • Chronic health conditions – if you have a chronic health condition or physical condition that would make vaginal deliveries high risk or dangerous for the Mom to be, then a vaginal birth may be off the cards. Seek advice on what is recommended for you based on your specific circumstances, as there is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to maternal health.

How and where you give birth to your baby is a very personal choice. That said, it’s important you understand all your options, the risks and benefits and how they fit with your own situation before making your choice. It’s also important to accept that at times, you won’t always get the birth plan you hoped for and the most important thing is that Mom and baby stay safe and well.

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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