If a baby is in distress or labor has stalled, natural childbirth may be dangerous or impossible for both mother and child. Performing a cesarean section (C-section) where and when it is appropriate can prevent serious consequences, birth injuries, or even death. However, C-sections have risks of their own, and a woman’s care team should weigh these carefully before choosing to perform the procedure.
Why Perform a C-Section?
In the United States, about one in three births occurs by C-section. Sometimes, a woman’s doctor will recommend and schedule a cesarean birth instead of waiting for labor to occur. This may be because of maternal medical conditions like an active infection or a history of prior C-section delivery, or it can be due to a specific concerning pregnancy condition like placenta previa or placental abruption. Other “emergency” C-sections during labor and delivery are unscheduled and occur when labor isn’t progressing safely or when the baby seems to be in danger or distress. Whether performed as scheduled or on an emergency basis, C-sections can reduce the risk of serious consequences and save many lives.
Drawbacks and Risks of C-Sections
Recovering from a C-section will take longer than recovering from a vaginal delivery (an average of 4-6 weeks rather than 1-2 weeks) because the procedure involves cutting through the muscles of the abdomen. Like with any major surgery, the risks include infection, blood loss or dangerous clots, nausea, vomiting, and severe headache (often related to anesthesia), bowel problems, injury to another organ (such as the bladder), and, very rarely, even death. Infants who are delivered via C-section may be more likely to need neonatal intensive care (NICU) for immature organ development.
Long-Term Effects of C-Sections
Women who give birth via C-section have an increased risk of issues with subsequent pregnancies, including the risk of the incision scar tearing open during a later pregnancy or labor (uterine rupture), placenta previa (the growth of the placenta low in the uterus, blocking the cervix), placenta accreta, placenta increta, and placenta percreta (when the placenta grows deeper into the uterine wall than normal).
Children born by C-section also suffer increased rates of diseases, including asthma, type I diabetes, allergies, obesity, as well as reduced overall cognitive functioning and lower academic performance.
Weighing the Risks of a C-Section
While a C-section can be lifesaving or entirely appropriate to reduce the risks to mother or child, it comes with both immediate and long-term risks. While some women choose to schedule a C-section for the convenience of planning exactly when and how their child will be born, it’s vital to consider the potential short and long-term consequences. Women should work with their maternal care providers to determine the birth plan that’s most appropriate for them. Performing a C-section without considering the long-term consequences could constitute negligence or medical malpractice.
If you’ve suffered injury as a result of an unnecessary C-section or improper labor and delivery care, don’t hesitate to call an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Our skilled team of sympathetic advocates will fight hard on your behalf to help you and your child recover what you deserve as compensation for birth injuries and other medical malpractice claims. Contact Sommers Schwartz today for a free, no-obligation consultation.