Cesarean Deliveries

By Guest Editor on Mar 29, 2016

According to the newest data, one third of all baby deliveries were performed via Cesarean section. Over the last decade, Cesarean sections, or C-sections, have been on the rise. But what is a C-section and why is it so popular?

A C-section is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby via the abdomen and uterus instead of vaginal delivery. Although birth plans may call for delivery via C-section, sometimes it becomes the best option as the baby is being born because of health risks that can occur during the birth process. Some of these risks include:

  • When labor isn't progressing, also called "stalled labor"
  • When the baby isn't getting enough oxygen
  • When the baby is in an abnormal position
  • When there are multiple babies in one pregnancy
  • When there is a problem with the umbilical cord
  • When there are health concerns such as high blood pressure, genital herpes, or HIV

Although it may seem like C-sections are a safer birth method, there are also risks involved with C-sections. These risks can include:

  • General surgical procedure risks such as reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, wound infections, maternal rehospitalization, etc.
  • Higher rates of complications requiring neonatal intensive care unit admissions
  • Rare surgical injuries to the fetus during delivery
  • Hospital costs for C-section deliveries are almost double those for a vaginal delivery
  • Multiple C-sections can increase the risk of placenta problems and heavy bleeding, which may lead to a required hysterectomy

With both vaginally delivery and C-section risks in mind, it is important to have a birth plan ahead of time with your preference. So how do you decide if a Cesarean section is right for you? Some women request C-sections with their first babies to avoid labor, the possible complications of a vaginal birth, or to take advantage of the convenience of a planned deliver. This is discouraged if you plan on having several children.

The best course of action is to meet with your health care provider and talk with them about your priorities and concerns. They will take that into account along with your medical history to determine the best choice for you.