What You Need To Know
Every pregnant woman has a chance of needing to have a cesarean childbirth. ]The most important thing I can suggest is that if you are pregnant – then educate yourself. The old phrase “Ignorance is bliss” is plain stupid. Ignorance is a bad thing and education is the best. Read, read, read, read.
Read all you can about pregnancy and childbirth, both natural (vaginal) and cesarean. Attend birth classes. They are well worth the time and effort. Talk to other women who have been there. The worse thing you can do is to go blindly into pregnancy and childbirth and not know what’s going on, or what your options are.
I went through my first two pregnancies with that ignorant bliss. To me, cesareans weren’t even an option. I would deliver vaginally, my mother did, my grandmothers did, my aunts did, so why couldn’t I? Truth is each pregnancy is different and occasionally things come up that require medical intervention in order to save the baby and or mother’s life. Just because no body else in your family has never had a cesarean, doesn’t mean you won’t possibly need one. I was blessed with my son, I had him naturally and assumed that my daughter would be the same way. I even attended 6 weeks worth of Bradley Method Childbirth classes. I talked with my doctor and the hospital at length about my birth plan – no IV’s, no drugs – all natural. That was my plan until my 30th week of pregnancy when I found out my daughter was breech. All my well intended plans of an all natural birth flew out the door. Then I crammed to learn all I could about cesareans.
The fact that there is a chance of needing a cesarean- though how small or large a chance depends on how your pregnancy is progressing and what problems may arise – necessitates the need for knowing about cesareans. First let’s go over the reasons for a cesarean.
1. Failure to progress in labor. This is when the cervix will not dilate completely, or the labor stops altogether.
2. Fetal distress – concerns about the baby’s health during labor. Usually the baby is not getting enough oxygen, either because the umbilical cord is being compressed or because the placenta is no longer functioning properly.
3. Malposition of the baby – breech positions are the cause of 15% of cesareans. Sometimes the doctor can successfully move the baby and sometimes the baby won’t move at all. Few doctors will allow a woman to deliver a complete or frank breech – however it’s not without risks to the newborn. Soft neurological damage can occur in the baby. Footling and transverse (sideways) always have to be delivered cesarean.
4. Not enough room for the baby – sometimes the baby simply won’t fit through the mothe’s pelvis – either because the mother is too small or the baby too big – or the baby is turned sunny side up (face facing forward).
5. Maternal health conditions – these include a.) gestational diabetes – this condition can cause macrosomia – or excessive weight at birth in the baby. Most doctors define macrosomia at 9 pounds 14 ounces or more. b.)heart or pulmonary disease. c.) high blood pressure. d.)genital herpes.
6. Multiple births – this is when there is more than one baby present.
7. Obstetrical emergencies – placental abruption, placenta previa, uterine rupture or cord prolapse almost always requires an emergency cesarean birth.
8. Repeat cesareans – 1/3 of all cesareans performed are repeat. This number is decreasing, however, because women are electing to try VBAC – vaginal birth after cesarean.
Given this knowledge, you can understand how any of these things can happen and make a cesarean necessary. In preparation for the c-section, visit your hospital for a tour and find out the procedures that are used. You will have an IV inserted in your arm and a catheter put in to catch your urine. You will either be given a spinal, epidural or a combination of the two. In some extreme emergencies general anesthesia is used. Most always a labor support person/partner is allowed to be with you during the procedure. It takes up to an hour and you will feel little to no pain. You will then spend another hour in the recovery room. After you go back to your room, you will be given a liquid diet for a couple of days and will slowly be allowed to get up and move around. Altogether, recovery time for a cesarean is about 6 weeks where as recovery from a vaginal birth is about 2 weeks. It will take several months to gain back the muscle tone just to be able to sit up without help. And let’s face it, once those muscles are cut, you never fully gain back all that tone.