Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about C-sections. Misinformation about who needs them, why they're necessary, and what puts a woman at a greater risk for getting one circulate amongst peer groups with reckless abandon. False information, myths, and personal experiences passed as typical can leave women uninformed and afraid, so while your doctor is the best source for validating any concerns, there are things that don't actually put you at risk for a C-section you should know before panicking prematurely. If there are medical reasons why your doctor has discussed a C-section, it's important to take a step back and find out all the facts.
I didn't end up needing C-sections, but I was at risk and extremely close with both births of my children, especially when they failed to progress as anticipated. I had medical complications during my pregnancies, and was induced at the end of each. And when the word induction was thrown around, I started to panic. It was thought, at the time (and even still) that an induction puts a woman at a higher risk for a C-section. In fact, an old study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded that those who were induced were twice as likely to need a C-section than those who weren't. However, a new study published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology contradicts previous findings, and found that there's no connection between induction and cesarean births. And that, my dear reader, is just one example of outdated information being passed off as fact, and a pregnant woman panicking as the result.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), C-section rates are around 32 percent in the United States. Consumer Reports says that nearly half of C-sections are completely unnecessary, which only adds to the prevailing fear of the procedure and what does, or does not, put a woman at a greater risk of experiencing one. So with that in mind, here are a few things that don't actually put you at rick for a C-section. As always, talk to your doctor about your specific situation and any concerns you may have, but rest easy knowing that just because you've heard it, doesn't make it true.
Having A Doula Or Midwife
Contrary to popular belief, a doula and a midwife are not the same. According to The Bump, midwives are health care providers who can deliver in the hospital, birthing center, or your home, while a doula is a birthing coach to guide you through a (typically unmedicated) labor and delivery.
Some assume that having a doula or midwife increases your risk of having a C-Section. But on the contrary, having someone coach women through labor has shown a 60 percent reduction in c-section rates. According to HuffPost, and the research linked via a comprehensive Cochran review of more than 20 trials, claims it's "80 percent lower odds of having a non-medically indicated C-section compared with women who had no doula." So if you're on the fence about having a midwife or doula, know that it might actually increase your odds of ever seeing an operating room.
Staying Home As Long As Possible
If you have a typical pregnancy sans complications, you're more likely to progress when you're at home. According to Fit Pregnancy, the more hours you spend in the hospital before your baby is born, the higher risk of requiring medical intervention, including C-section. But if you stay at hoe until you're in active labor, there's a lower chance of needing pitocin (which speeds the process up), and a higher chance of oxytocin dipping (which encourages contractions at to occur at a natural rate).
So staying home doesn't increase the odds of a cesarean. If anything, it keeps the flow at the steady pace it should be.
Waiting For The Epidural
A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology reports that of those mothers in labor, those who received an epidural pushed longer during childbirth. Fit Pregnancy cites 5.6 hours for first-timers who had epidurals vs. 3.3 hours for women who went without. Longer push times can lead to a distressed baby, which could lead to a C-section.
If an epidural is in your birth plan, it's recommended that you wait as long as possible to get one, so it doesn't slow labor too much (the average added time is 15 minutes, according to Slate).
Induction At 39 Weeks
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), if you have legitimate medical reasons, a C-section may be necessary. However, because it is considered major surgery, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urges discretion. Providers should weigh the pros and cons before allowing you to schedule an induction or C-section (for reasons other then necessity), adding they really "shouldn't happen before 39 weeks, unless the baby's lung maturity is determined by amniocentesis."
If you're at 39 weeks and fear it's too soon for an induction (and that doing so may lead to a C-section), studies show that as long as the lungs are developed, and your body is ready, you shouldn't be at a greater risk for a C-section.
A Large Baby
UT Southwestern Medical Center says that doctors actually can't predict the exact weight and size of your baby. There are too many variables at play. Even if they are able to get close, who's to say what your body can or cannot handle? A "big" baby is relative, and with ultrasounds not being a completely accurate source of information, it's important to discuss the potential outcomes of a non-surgical labor and delivery.
A Doctor Who Makes You Wait
You might be ready to get the baby out of you, but having a doctor who urges you to wait it out as long as possible isn't putting you at a greater risk of having a C-section. Actually, they're doing you a favor. You should know your physician's and hospital's cesarean rates to understand if waiting is in your best interest. Consumer Reports says that your biggest risk are those two factors. If your doctor, or hospital, has a high track record of C-sections, it's a good time to question whether or not they're the people you want on your team. When your doctor tells you to wait, it could be a sign that they're not busy or choosing to hurry your delivery via C-section for their benefit.
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