Monday, April 12, 2010

I would seriously prefer an elective c-section

I've read about 'normal birth', I've read about 'emergency c-sections', and I've read about 'elective c-sections'...after all that reading I've come to the conclusion that in the absence of riskless fetal teletransportation, I would personally prefer an elective c-section at about 39 weeks gestation (ie. in about 12 weeks time). I am part of a small minority (1%) of women who would like to request an elective caesarean section to deliver this child. This post is about the reasons why I feel it is a good choice for me in my personal circumstance (ie. healthy married woman, well-educated in early 30's, not planning on more than 2 kids, etc.)...

I want to start by saying that birth is an immensely personal experience between a mother, a father, a doctor, and a baby - and that what may be an appropriate choice for one may be an inappropriate for another. I think women should be empowered to make decisions regarding their birth plans that are best for them and their children.

First, I think I will go into why I really don't want a vaginal birth as much of my reasons for wanting an elective c-section have a lot to do with what I don't want my birth experience to be. I know women have amazing vaginal birth experiences in which their child is brought into the world and their abilities as women and mother are affirmed and they bounce back from their experience with amazing post birth recoveries. That they experience a delivery that while not free of the pain of labour and delivery, is relatively free of any other complications. After the birth, they instantly bond with their pink little bundles of joy and begin lactating within minutes. I know that this is a birth experience that some women experience - that what they plan for in terms of their birth experience is what they get. These are amazing women who really should go into the business of having babies as they do it remarkably well. So given this kind of fairy tale is possible - why in the world would I not be open to it?

REASON 1: Risk and Uncertainty - there is a substantial risk that what is planned for is not what is obtained in the world of planned vaginal childbirth. Many women plan uncomplicated deliveries and get labours that don't progress, umbilical cords that prolapse, fetuses in distress, 3rd or 4th degree tears, episotomies, pelvic floor injuries, emergency c-sections, exhausting labours, sexual dysfunction, etc. Yes the planned vaginal birth that goes off without a hitch is a beautiful thing but it is far from a certain thing and it is also far from reality for many women. I would never stand in the way of a woman who wishes to pursue this experience, despite the risk of being given an entirely different experience or other unwanted side effects of a vaginal delivery.

With an elective c-section I know what I'm getting into. Some risks that are higher than the fairy tale vaginal birth but some risks that are lower and eliminating the risk of an emergency c-section. I know that recuperation will take longer than with a vaginal birth...but I will be physically and mentally prepared for it. I know that the risk of sexual dysfunction is lower. I know the risk of urinary or fecal incontinance is lower. I know that the risk of pelvic organ prolapse is lower. I know that the risks of some birth traumas are lower. I know the risk of tearing is eliminated.

If I can choose to have a home birth, why can't I choose an elective caesarean? If I can choose to have any number of other elective surgeries with similar risk(all be it at a price) - why not c-section?

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