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“After my emergency Cesarean section, I was shell-shocked that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.” Jennifer O’Brien, East Greenbush, N.Y.
When I hear women debate whether it’s better to have a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section, I’m able to offer a rare perspective: I experienced both—in the same delivery.
I popped out my first twin, Toby, the old-fashioned way. But my second little guy, Ian, was delivered by emergency C-section after his umbilical cord dropped down before he did, potentially compromising his oxygen supply.
Needless to say, I’m grateful to have had that C-section; but in the absence of an emergency situation like mine, I’d choose a vaginal delivery any day.
The Today Show ran a segment Tuesday morning about a scheduled c-section, live from the operating room. First time parents allowed a film crew and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for the show, to tag along while their baby was born. As I watched, I was filled with mixed emotions. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m still thrilled when a new baby arrives. I love that moment when someone calls out, “It’s a boy!
The percentage of babies delivered by Cesarean in the United States has increased for each of the past 10 years. And it's a trend that shows no signs of slowing: In 2005, more than 30 percent of all babies in this country were delivered by C-section—an all-time high, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Still, in many childbirth classes, a Cesarean delivery—and the recovery that follows—is not covered in much depth, if at all. Here’s what you need to know to cope:
You know your delivery probably won’t go down like it did in Knocked Up or on ER (let’s hope), but what labor and childbirth look like has remained mostly a mystery to modern women—until now.
If you’ve had a Cesarean section, you may have trouble getting a second one covered by insurance if you apply for an individual policy (one that you purchase on your own). Once you’ve had a C-section, the chances that you’ll have another are about 90 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And since C-sections cost about 76 percent more than vaginal deliveries, some individual insurers are rejecting women who’ve had the operation—or charging them higher premiums or deductibles.
Fear of Sex Repercussions: It’s debatable how many Cesareans are performed purely because a woman requests one, to make sure her doctor, rather than the doctor on call, delivers her baby or because she has fears about labor or vaginal delivery.
I’ve spent this week interviewing obstetricians and midwives for several upcoming articles. I also hosted a baby shower. While none of these events were intended to be “all about cesarean sections;” c-sections became the focus of our conversations and shined some light on the prevailing opinions people currently have about c-sections. While the most “informed” opinions presumably came from the obstetricians, the most enlightening conversations happened at the baby shower.
Remember: It's really more of a wish list. It's best to keep your birth plan short and sweet, and to really think through a few key questions which will help you communicate your wishes.
Use this form to write open-ended answers to five crucial questions. Then, print it out and share it with your health care provider.
Lori is scheduled for her third C-section this week and emailed with this question: "I've been having contractions for several nights and I'm worried I'll dilate too fast for the doctor to do my C-section in time. How do I know when to call the doctor?" Lori's questions open up quite a few areas for discussion. We'll talk a lot about C-sections in future blogs but this week we'll discuss contractions, scheduled C-sections and phone calls.
Carla and Louis Gericke began planning for a family after returning from a trip around the world. The Gerickes, both in their 30s, may not know whether they will have a boy or girl or if they want to raise their child in New York, where they now live, but they do know how their baby will be delivered. Carla, an attorney and writer, is insisting on a Cesarean birth, and not because of any medical necessity. “My primary reasons are to avoid tearing, vaginal stretching and incontinence,” she says. “I believe elective C-section is a personal choice.
Tricia Tazuk had been pushing for 30 minutes with her husband at her side in the Seattle hospital, cheering her on. Two midwives had coached Tazuk in shifts throughout 50 hours of intense labor, and everything appeared to be progressing well. Then, as the baby girl began to emerge, one midwife abruptly left the room.
Considering that at least 60 percent of American women today have an epidural for pain relief during labor, it’s surprising how misunderstood this procedure is. For starters, even doctors use the word “epidural” generically, to encompass three similar, yet distinct procedures: epidurals, spinals and a more recently perfected procedure, the combined spinal epidural (CSE), or “walking” epidural. Since deciding whether or not to have an epidural means becoming informed about the benefits and risks well before labor begins, here are the facts to help you make sense of some misconceptions.