Potential dangers of C-sections

After having two children naturally, I had no reason to think that I would ever need a C-section. The first two pregnancies were uneventful and my time in labor was short. But then, everything changed. My third baby had to be taken via emergency C-section. There was a medical emergency during delivery, and it was my only option. I am grateful for the intervention, but a new study points to potential long-term issues caused by skipping the natural process. In my case, the natural process would have ended poorly.

C-sections impair progress

The study reported in The New Haven Register shows that a key protein is activated in newborns during natural childbirth, but this chemical is impaired in Caesarean section births. Tamas Horvath, chairman of the Department of Comparative Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, conducted the study and found that when the protein does not kick off in its normal way, physical progress in certain areas does not happen as it should.

Stress serves a purpose

This protein, UCP2, is responsible for a range of functions in the brain such as creating memory circuits. It also has a hand in the metabolism of fat and promotes cells' adaptation and survival under stress. The stress of childbirth serves a purpose for both the mother and the baby. When this is sidestepped, there could be unknown repercussions.

Know your risk

What is known though is that not every C-section is necessary. Be sure to stay informed to avoid unnecessary harm to you and your newborn. A C-section is a major surgical procedure. Know the risks and potential complications so that you can make an informed decision.

Any abdominal surgery poses some of the following risks;

  • Infection at the incision site, or in any of the pelvic organs.
  • Increased blood loss will happen during a C-section and in fact blood transfusions are not uncommon.
  • Adhesions or scar tissue can form causing pain and blockage.
  • Extended hospital stay and recovery time is a given. Without any complications, you can expect to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days and it will take weeks, or months until you are pain-free from the surgery.

Aside from the new study showing the potential link between the protein, UCP2 and development, babies also can experience complications due to a C-section:

  • Low APGAR scores can happen due to anesthesia, but often it is due to the lack of stimulation during delivery. There is a 50% greater chance that babies born by C-section will have a lower APGAR than those babies born vaginally.
  • Breathing problems are another issue that faces babies born through a C-section. Studies point to a greater need for breathing assistance after a C-section.
  • Finally, if the baby's gestational age was not calculated correctly, a baby could be delivered too early. This could happen during a C-section that was planned for convenience sake.

While many of us did not have a choice on the way their baby entered the world, others make the decision voluntarily. Some may be afraid of vaginal birth and opt for the surgery instead; others want to time the birth so that it fits into their schedule. Doctors may encourage a C-section for convenience sake, but more likely they advise in the case of multiple babies or medical issues that would make a vaginal birth difficult or dangerous.

I am still grateful for the medical intervention and even had to have a second C-section in order to deliver my daughter since I had undergone major surgery only months before her birth. While I do not see any long-term effects from this "choice," it stands to reason that childbirth serves a natural purpose. So before opting for a C-section, take care to do your research. Stay proactive. Ask questions and know the risks, both short and long term before making this big decision.

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