Many of you may have heard of mothers who have chosen to go in for a C-section for a myriad of reasons.Sometimes, you or your child might have a health concern that necessitates a C-section. While both natural birth and C-sections have their pros and cons, it is best that you understand the full implications of one or the other.
What is an elective or planned C-section?
A C-section is where the baby is delivered through surgical means. An incision is made on the stomach and uterus and the baby is then removed.
An elective or scheduled C-section is where the mother chooses to have her baby delivered for multiple reasons that could be medical or otherwise.
Why do women choose to have an elective C-section?
There are many reasons for choosing to have an elective or planned C-section. These broadly fall into two classifications – medical and non-medical reasons.
Some medical reason will manifest early enough in the pregnancy for a C-section by choice by both the mother and her doctor. Others might crop up just before or during labour where the benefits of elective C-section far outweigh the risks of complications.
- Prolonged Labour: If the labour extends beyond 20 hours for a woman with her first delivery or more than 14 hours in case of previous delivery, then it is classified as stalled labour. In such a case, the doctor might advise having a C-section in order to minimize further risks.
- Positioning: Babies are supposed to be delivered head first. However, some babies will be in the reverse direction or in breech. In such a case, a C-section will be the best option to deliver the baby safely.
- Foetal Distress: Your doctor might call for emergency C-section if the foetus’ oxygen supply is becoming too low.
- Congenital Defects: In case the foetus has been observed to have birth defects like excess fluid in the brain or heart conditions, then your doctor will recommend a C-section to minimise any trauma during birth.
- Previous C-Section: Most mothers can give birth vaginally after having a C-section. However, this might not be true for all women. A discussion with your doctor will tell you more about if you can give birth vaginally.
- Mother’s Health: In case the mother has some chronic condition such as a heart condition, or gestational diabetes, then a vaginal birth could be harmful to her. If the mother has HIV or genital herpes, or any other disease that could transfer to the baby during vaginal birth, the doctor will opt for a C-section.
- Cord Prolapse: When the cord slips out before the baby, then the condition is known as cord prolapse. This can be dangerous to the baby’s health as the blood flow to the baby can be seriously compromised.
- CPD: Cephalopelvic disproportion is when the mother’s pelvis is too small to push out the baby or the baby’s head is too big for the birth canal.
- Problems With the Placenta: In some cases, the placenta might entirely cover the cervix or become detached from the uterine wall which causes the baby to lose its oxygen supply.
- Multiple Births: Most cases of multiple births come with a host of other complications like prolonged labour or abnormal foetal position. In such cases, a C-section will be the safest way to deliver.
There are many other non-medical reasons why a woman would get a C-section by choice.
- One of the main factors is the worry that the pain of a vaginal birth would be unbearable to the mother.
- A previous history of UTI might cause concern over incontinence issues after vaginal birthing.
- The woman might choose to get a planned C-section if her partner is not going to be present around the due date.
- An important event or function might be at the time of the due date.
- A C-section will ensure that their own doctor and not a duty doctor will deliver their child.
- A woman might be embarrassed to let others see her give birth.
Possible risks of planned caesarean delivery
While opting for a C-section might seem to be a simple decision on paper, in reality, there are many risks associated with the surgery to both the mother and the foetus.
Risks for Mother
- A C-section is a major surgery that must be done under anaesthesia.
- Excessive bleeding is a common complication.
- The chances of contracting an infection during a C-section is much higher than in a vaginal birth
- Recovery period for a C-section is much longer than vaginal birth. The former takes weeks to recover from with difficulty in moving while most mother report being on their feet within a day of vaginal birth.
Risks for Baby
- In some rare cases, the baby might be born with serious respiratory distress. This usually happens when the C-section is planned for earlier than 39 weeks due to incorrect calculation of the due date.
- Some practitioners have stated that it could affect the bond between the mother and baby as they will be separated during recovery. However, there haven’t been enough studies to corroborate this.
Elective Caesarean Section vs. Natural Birth
There are many pros and cons of both a C-section and vaginal birth.
Vaginal Birth: Pros
- Lesser time spent at the hospital
- Lesser chances of complications
- She can immediately nurse her baby
- Lesser chances of the baby having respiratory issues
Vaginal Birth: Cons
- Some cases of vaginal tearing that require stitches
- Higher chances of incontinence and loss of control of the bowel
- Lingering pain in the area between the vagina and anus.
- A scheduled birth with time to prepare for the birthing
- No prolonged labour
- No chances of injury to the birthing canal
- Longer recovery period
- Chances of complications are higher
- Chances of vaginal birthing later might be reduced
- Higher chances of asthma or other breathing issues with the baby.
- Higher chances of the baby being stillborn.