Can I avoid a c-section?

Q: Is there any way I can avoid a c-section?

A: Most women don't want to have a c-section, but if you or your baby develops a complication before or during labor, there's usually nothing you can do to avoid it.

Some women may be more likely to need a c-section than others, though, so there are things that you can do throughout pregnancy that may lower your chances of needing one. Eating well, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight gain can minimize your chances of developing the types of complications that often lead to cesareans, like preterm birth, a too-large baby, and conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, for example.

You should also talk to your doctor about his philosophy on cesareans, and make sure it matches yours. Some physicians are more likely to recommend c-sections than others, or have varying definition of what's really medically necessary. And if your doctor says you need a c-section, don't hesitate to ask why. In certain cases (like if your baby is large) you may be allowed to try a vaginal birth for a period of time to see if surgery can be avoided, but you'll only be offered this opportunity if your doctor considers it safe for both you and your baby.

Try to avoid being induced for labor unless your doctor says you need to be. Research shows that women who are induced are more likely to need c-sections than those who go into labor on their own (usually because labor is more likely to stall, which can cause distress for the baby).

And if you end up having a c-section don't feel guilty -- you didn't do anything to cause it. Some women report feeling cheated out of the experience of childbirth and that's natural, but your best defense against these feelings is to focus on the positive result: a healthy baby and a healthy mom to care for him!—Stacey Stapleton

Copyright 2009

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