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What Are the Potential Risks and Benefits If You Choose to Give Birth by C-section

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What Are the Potential Risks and Benefits If You Choose to Give Birth by C-section

Over that last few years, it has become common among pregnant women to request having a cesarean section, in lieu of vaginal birth. Experts have estimated that less than 3 women out of 100 will request a c-section; however, more women are having c-sections than ever before. In 2012, about 33 percent of births in the United States were cesarean deliveries, up from about 20 percent in 1996.

The Risks

If you are thinking about planning a cesarean delivery, there are a few risks that you should keep in mind. Take heed of the following:

Cesareans may cause problems for future pregnancies.

One potential future complication is a condtion known as placenta previa. This is when a placenta is covering or is too close to the cervix. Placenta previa is caused by having a cesarean from a previous pregnancy. This can also increase your risk of having to deliver prematurely.

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Another well-known risk is that of placenta accreta. This is when the placenta does not separate properly at delivery.

Both of these may increase the risk of hemorrhage and emergency hysterectomy during delivery.

You will probably be in the hospital longer after giving birth.

By having a c-section, you increase the length of time you will have to stay in the hospital, compared to giving birth naturally. Also, women who have a c-section are more likely to be readmitted into the hospital during the postpartum period.

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Your baby has increased chances of having to be put in NICU.

Babies born by planned c-section are more likely to end up in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with breathing problems than are babies who are born vaginally.  In the womb, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid. The labor process signals the baby’s lungs to stop producing fluid, and the lungs then either reabsorb or remove the fluid — but this natural process doesn’t occur as efficiently when the mother doesn’t go through labor. Babies delivered by cesarean before 39 weeks are especially prone to this problem.

Babies are also more likely to have other problems — such as their bodies lacking the ability to regulate blood sugar and body temperature.

These are just a few of the primary risks associated with giving birth by cesarean section.

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The Benefits

Although there are many risks to planned cesareans, there are also a few benefits.

You are able to better plan for post-birth activities.

By scheduling a c-section, it may help make it easier for you to plan things out in advance. You will be able to make arrangements for taking off of work, as well as arrangements to take care of you and your home.

There is less pre-labor anxiety.

Choosing to have a scheduled cesarean may help you combat pre-labor anxiety. You will know exactly when the birth is going to happen, giving you the peace of mind to focus on other things.

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There is a smaller chance of hemorrhage.

There’s some evidence that you’re less likely to hemorrhage if you plan a c-section than if you plan a vaginal birth. When it comes to the risk of hemorrhage leading to hysterectomy, what little evidence there is shows no difference between first-time moms planning a c-section versus those planning a vaginal delivery.

Medical experts say cesarean deliveries should be performed only when medically necessary. They also caution that concern about pain management is never a sufficient reason for a c-section.

In addition, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics guidelines state that because there’s no hard evidence of benefit to the patient, performing a c-section for non-medical reasons is not ethically justified.

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While most experts are against it, the decision of a scheduled cesarean is ultimately up to you and the doctor you are working with. You should never be afraid to follow your maternal instincts.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/547764-547764/ via pixabay.com

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