C- Sections. What’s the big deal, anyways?

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I come with passion.

I come with purpose.

We all know that c-sections save lives. It’s obvious. It’s awesome. It’s a game changer for many.

But, the facts tell us that this major surgery happens to 1 out of 3 women. And that’s too many. The World Health Organization recommends the percentage be around 10-15%. Any less or anymore than that and we have a problem.

So, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, why does our rate soar so high?

We’re saving lives. That’s why. Or is it?

I think something’s going on. Something that isn’t helping us. In fact, I think it’s hurting us. And what many people don’t know about this problem and all its implications, well it bugs me.

What’s the problem with unnecessary c-sections? Here’s my list in no particular order.

  1. Can limit the number of children a women will have in her lifetime. You want a big family? But your first baby is born surgically? The next pregnancy you face another c-section or you can try to have the baby vaginally. If you have a c-section and keep repeating that, you enter a world of risks each time your baby is born. There are risks to baby and there are risks to mom. If you want to have a VBAC, you first need to find a supportive provider and then you need to VBAC. Finding a provider comes with challenges as some will not support a women wanting to deliver vaginally after a c-section. Some providers will limit the amount of children a women can have because of scar tissue from sections. For me, I was told I could have more sections as I didn’t have scar tissue, but I don’t want to keep having cesareans. So, if a woman can’t find a provider willing to support her after two or three cesareans, one might decide to stop having children. This can be heartbreaking and sad for a mother who planned and dreamed for more babies.
  2. Risks to future pregnancies. You guys, if you want to learn more and don’t know where to start, go to VBACFacts.com. Jen Kamel lays it out so well. And delivers the truth. She posts a study that says (not a a direct quote) the risks of acrreta, surgical incision of the bladder, bowel injury, ureter injury, disruption of the gastrointestinal motor activity, the need for post op ventilation, ICU admission, hysterectomy, blood transfusion, length of hospital stay significantly increase with each cesareanIs anyone listening? If we keep having c-sections when there is not a true need, we increase these risks to women each time without a need to. Are we telling them this?
  3. Mental and emotional health of the mother. If a mother has an unnecessary c-section and is hurt, angry, feels like she was taken advantage of or not given the opportunity to make choices, this can affect her deeply. And it may not be immediate. It could be in years to come as she realizes the implications it has upon her family and her future. If we are performing unnecessary procedures, we not only are increasing the risks physically to mothers, but I believe there is increased risk for emotional heartache as well.
  4. Limits choices for future healthcare. Many know the phrase, “once a cesarean, always a cesarean.” In some places, this still rings true. VBAC bans in place for various reasons, not giving women choices in childbirth. If a woman chooses to have a VBAC and her local providers cannot meet her wishes, she then is forced to travel sometimes hours away to find healthcare to meet her needs. In 2014, VBAC bans were in over 40% of American hospitals. That’s almost half of the hospitals in our country who tell women “no” and who perform repeat c-sections.
  5. It costs us time and money. When a mother has a c-section it is major abdominal surgery. The recovery is generally longer than a vaginal delivery. This can mean that mom has a harder time recovering and that family members need to take more time off from work to help her with the baby. A vaginal delivery generally has less of a healing time and thus mom is able to care more easily for herself and baby, thought postpartum mothers still need a lot of support. I think our culture often fails to give the postpartum time what it deserves regardless of how a baby was born. Mom needs the recovery and support always.

That’s my list. The things that roll over my  in my head and go through my heart. I see a problem. I see implications for the future of the health of mothers, babies and their families. I see problems that are coming about when we do things that aren’t necessary.

And what bugs me is I’m not sure how to fix it. I want to spare people the pain. I want to help. And I don’t know how. Other than to speak up and share the truths that I know.

So, I ask you. What problems have you encountered from unnecessary c-sections? What can we do about it? Please share in the comments. I want to know your thoughts.

 

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