Deciding between a vaginal or Cesarian delivery is a tough choice for many moms, but some health conditions basically make the decision for you. For instance, if you have fibroids, then you may need a C-section delivery to give birth without complications. In many cases uterine fibroids, which are benign growths on the uterus, only start to cause problems for some women when a baby is on the way, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because there's nothing like a surprise health condition to liven up your pregnancy, right?
In general, women with fibroids require a Cesarian delivery six times as often as their peers without fibroids, according to UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology. This is because the fibroids can block your baby's escape path, so to speak. "Fibroids can ... block the baby’s descent when the baby is up high in the abdomen and passing through the vagina for delivery,” explained Dr. Linda Bradley, gynecologic surgeon and director of the Center for Menstrual Disorders, Fibroids, and Hysterscopic Services at the Cleveland Clinic in ask4UFE.com. Depending on their location in the uterus, fibroids can act as an obstruction, or a block, to the exit.
And if you've had fibroid removal surgery, known as a myomectomy, then the possibility for a Cesarian delivery may be even higher. In particular, if the surgeon had to make a deep cut into the uterine wall to remove a fibroid, then your OB-GYN may recommend a C-section delivery to prevent further complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is to decrease the risk of uterine rupture during vaginal labor.
That said, simply having fibroids does not mean you absolutely must get a C-section. It's all about where the fibroids show up. "'Location, location, location' is key with fibroids," said Gail Jackson, an OB-GYN with a private practice in the Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Beverly Hills, in Baby Center. "I've seen women with a fibroid the size of a cantaloupe that appears to sit on top of the uterus like a top hat. This fibroid may not complicate the pregnancy and delivery." In other words, it's still totally possible to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery even if you have fibroids. It's just super crucial to make sure your pregnancy progresses under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional who knows all about fibroids.
Fibroids can cause additional pregnancy complications as well. For instance, the presence of fibroids can compromise the mother and baby's blood supply. "If the fibroid is located right by the placenta, it can affect the blood supply to the fetus," said Dr. Stacey Scheib, director of the Hopkins Multidisciplinary Fibroid Center in TODAY. "Then sometimes the baby may be born a little on the small side and there can be complications, including difficulty breathing, problems maintaining weight, and body temperature." If a fibroid near the placenta is an issue during your pregnancy, then you'll need careful monitoring by a healthcare professional.
Although this information may cause moms-to-be even more stress, it's important to remember that serious pregnancy and delivery complications from fibroids are still something of a rarity. Something like 80 to 90 percent of African American women, as well as 70 percent of white women, will develop fibroids by the age of 50, according to the National Institute for Health. (The perplexing frequency with which fibroids affect black women is still being studied.) For the most part, these fibroids do not present symptoms or any health complications. As always, if you have any concerns about the way fibroids will potentially affect your pregnancy in particular, don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider for more personalized information.
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