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Why I Won't Ever Schedule a C-Section

When I was first diagnosed with my brain condition in 2006, I was told I’ve never be able to deliver a baby naturally. The concern was that the force of pushing would put way too much pressure on my brain and increase the risk of more of my brain herniating. And well, that’s pretty much never good news.

I had come to terms with that reality and though my mother-in-law always gave me flack about being too much of a wimp to deliver a baby naturally, it mostly didn’t bother me. But after I had decompression surgery in 2007, we thought there was a chance. It’s not that I had anything against a c-section, I just kind of wanted the opportunity to try natural labor if possible.

But from the very start, my husband was adamant that if we did have to have a c-section that we would not schedule it. As a pediatric resident who had spent months working in the NICU, he had seen newborns who had been born from early planned c-sections who had a lot more difficulty with breathing and eating than the infants of c-sections that were performed after the mother went into labor.

When I asked my husband why these full term babies had so much trouble with c-sections, he explained to me that the process of going into labor causes a cascade of hormones from the mother to the baby, some of which help with the final maturation of an infant’s lungs, and others just generally prepare them for birth. When you have a scheduled c-section, those hormones are not released and the consequences of that can be pretty serious, even if only in the short term. In short, these babies were not hormonally prepared to be born.

After understanding the science, I agreed whole-heartedly. No scheduled c-sections for us. Period.

When I found out about this pregnancy I made an appointment with my neurologist and we had a sit down talk. She reviewed all my MRIs from this year and decided that there’s no risk to my brain for me to deliver a child naturally. There is a risk associated with an epidural (another topic for another day), but that I do not have to have a c-section. I’m pretty excited at this news, but it hasn’t changed my views on c-sections at all.

And this is why a recent article caught my eye and made me want to give Oregon a high-five. In September, seventeen Oregon hospitals all stopped performing scheduled c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy, unless there was a medical reason to do so. I’m still not in love with doing scheduled c-sections even at 39 and 40 weeks of pregnancy, but I think this is still a huge step in the right direction.

I don’t have a firm opinion on inductions in general, but Angela has already done quite a bit of research on this topic and looked at the results of a similar initiative in Utah, and it seems that this ban on early inductions is every bit as beneficial as the ban on early c-sections.

It is my opinion that these firm decision to not allow scheduled c-sections and inductions are in the best interests of mothers and infants alike. I cannot begin to imagine how uncomfortable late pregnancy is because I’ve never been there, but I know that it cannot compare to the worry and fear associated with having your newborn in the NICU. I can only hope that more states and more hospitals adopt these same policies so that we can have more healthy babies and mothers.

What about you, would you schedule an early c-section if your hospital would let you?

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