Did you choose a Cesarean section for a non-medical reason?

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By: SantaRosa OLD SKOOLCC BY 2.0
My wife and I are beginning the prep work for our anonymous donor assisted baby-making plans. I will be carrying our baby, but I am petrified of labor and vaginal birth. I’ve read all of the C-section posts on Offbeat Families so far, and they’ve been very helpful and gorgeous.

I wonder: are there any offbeat families who opted for a C-section out of desire and not for a medical reason?

If so — why did you do it, and were your family members and medical professionals supportive of this decision? — Jules

Comments on Did you choose a Cesarean section for a non-medical reason?

  1. Fear is the real enemy. The more fear, the more pain, no matter what kind of birth you have.

    I spent my whole life fearing birth. Then when I was pregnant I worked through that fear (mostly by reading Ina May Gaskin’s books), and I ended up having an incredible drug-free birth. I literally turned to my husband while pushing and said “you know, its not that bad!”
    i am not that badass. its just that birth can be really amazing, and putting fear aside is the first step to getting there.

  2. I had both. If I was to compare pain, the vaginal birth had the most intense sensation of pain, but the intensity could be counted in minutes. The c-section was slightly less of an intense pain, but was felt longer. I had trouble holding and manipulating the baby in my arms and had difficulty caring for myself. If you have a lot of family available to you, it will be easier during c-section recovery. Things that may be difficult after a c-section- 1. driving a car (you just can’t press hard with a weak abdomen)
    2. lifting the baby, though setting the baby down was hardest for me, she kind of fell from my arms for the first few weeks
    3. the first bowel movement after (surgery and hospitalization often have a pleasant constipation effect that can cause a scar ripping fear the first time you have a bm after).

    I don’t think there is anyway to avoid all pain and you just have to do what is right for you. Eventually, whatever way you choose, you will heal and no longer be in pain. And you will have a baby to enjoy! Congrats and good luck!

    Also, look into a doula, even for a c-section. Also, a postpartum doula would be great for any kind of recovery for additional support

  3. Almost 19 hours of labor with no progress and decreasing heartbeats for my son resulted in an emergency c-section. The hospital follows the “once a c-section, always a c-section” rule, so my 2nd one was more planned. His movements decreased 4 days before the scheduled date, so the c-section was moved up. Here’s how I would compare my surgeries:

    First one: I became violently ill to the epidural and spent most of the time vomiting or dry heaving. During the procedure, I couldn’t move anything on my body and missed seeing my son for the first time until many hours later when I finally came back. The recovery…I was up and moving around like normal 2 days after. I healed very fast and needed no pain meds.

    Second one: The minute they gave me the spinal, I fell ill again but this time I was prepared and used focusing techniques to stay alert and not let the sickness overtake me. Recovery time in the hospital after the procedure took a little while. Recovery time at home seemed more painful (like moderate-to-severe period cramps) and lasted 2 weeks, but again, no major problems with healing.

    I believe it ultimately comes down to what YOU believe you can handle. We are stronger than we think, but we all have limits. The labor I did experience, I know I would not be able to effectively push and therefore I’m kind of thankful I had the c-section. But that’s only from my experience.

    Keep doing your research and you will find the perfect answer that fits you.

  4. If you decide to have an elective Cesarean birth, you are in a great position to prepare appropriately for it. People who have emergency Cesareans are often blindsided — they haven’t thought about what aftercare might be like, and now they’re having to come up with it in the middle of simultaneously adjusting to having a newborn.

    A few ideas:
    1) Find providers you trust. Regardless of how the baby comes out, this is so important and goes such a long way towards having a positive experience.

    2) Consider hiring a doula who is experienced in Cesarean births. The same way Ariel was able to have an awesome Cesarean because of her mother’s experience as a midwife, a good doula knows what your options are and how best to negotiate with the hospital staff. When you’re doing interviews, ask specifically about these things.

    3) Consider postpartum physical therapy. Depending on where you live, there may be people who specialize in this. For all other major abdominal surgeries, physical therapy is a routine part of recovery. Why it isn’t for Cesareans is beyond me, but if you’re choosing one, you can plan for it.

    4) Consider taking a breastfeeding class or talking to a lactation consultant before you give birth, if breastfeeding is in your plan. They can help you make a post-Cesarean breastfeeding plan.

    If, along the way, any of your providers give you shit about your decision, it’s okay to fire them and find someone else.

    Good luck with your search!

  5. This is NOT to judge anybody for chosing what’s right for them (and definitely NOT to devalue in any way the incredible invention that is a medically necessary c-section (and I count mental concern for the mother under medical necessities), but something I haven’t seen in this discussion yet is the experience of the baby.

    There are recent findings that show that C-Section-Babies are more likely to get allergies and asthma, and be overweight and/or get diabetes later in life.

    As always with statistics, they’re just that STATISTICS. Nobody gets 5 percent asthma, but they CAN be useful.

    So, I guess I just wanted to point this out, because I hadn’t seen this datapoint (which is obviously just one of many) in this discussion yet.

  6. I had a C-section for no reason other than I wanted one! First (and only, so far) birth for me.

    Honestly, I just had no interest in pushing a baby out of my ladybits. I fluctuated for a while between a vaginal birth (likely medicated) or a c-section, and in the end I decided that I’d rather just do the c-section.

    I have no regrets! I have a close friend who has had two kids vaginally (medicated, I think), and she says sometimes that she wishes she’d done the same because I seemed to bounce back so much more quickly (and didn’t have as many post-birth issues). I didn’t have to deal with tearing, or sore bits, or anything like that. My incision area was of course a little sore for a bit, but honestly it never really bothered me all that much. I took painkillers when it started to hurt some, and it was fine. Kiddo was born super healthy, and I bounced back pretty quickly too.

    As far as how other folks took it: I was in between doctors when we found out I was pregnant, and I didn’t have a very close connection to the doctor I ended up with. I honestly didn’t like my main doctor at all, but her PA was amazing and totally made the crappy doctor worth it. She was supportive of whatever choice I made for myself (while my actual doctor was very hands-off and didn’t seem to care one way or another). I don’t think my family even really asked about it, but if it did come up, I just explained that I had no desire to push out a kiddo! Both my family and my husband’s family are good for standing back and supporting us without judging (or at least, not to our faces!).

    In the end, it’s up to you – it’s what YOU think is most comfortable for you. Even your other half can’t make the decision for you. We talked about it a lot while I was pregnant, and he was supportive of whatever choice I wanted to make, but in the end, it turned out to be what I wanted when that time came (I had started going into labor before I made up my mind!).

    Good luck, and if you need someone else to bounce thoughts off of, I’m willing to chat! 🙂

    • Ahhh thank you thank you!

      I have absolutely zero desire to have a vaginal birth some day, and I had yet to encounter anyone who wasn’t completely dismissive and patronising about it.

      It’s not as if I haven’t read up on the pros and cons of each, or am completely ignorant of what a C Section actually entails.

      I’m so glad to hear that somewhere out there, there is someone who has similar feelings to me on this issue!

  7. I haven’t read all the comment but I’ll add my two cents worth.

    I’ve had an induction that lasted 4 days. A natural one, no drugs at a birthing center, and a C-section. By far the easiest, least painful (overall), and quickest recovery was the natural one. If I were to get pregnant again I would opt for the natural.

    Everyone loves giving you the horror stories when your pregnant. Easy birth stories are no fun. You have no idea what will happen to you when its time and as I can attest each of your births will be different. All I can say is research, research, research.

  8. Having read through the comments, I agree with much of what has been said – what’s right for you is what’s right for you, in the end. However, before making this choice, please do look into the complications for the baby as well as the mother – not saying you wouldn’t have, just it hasn’t been mentioned here much. The potential complications are different, and you should be fully informed before making your decision 🙂

  9. I think most stuff has been covered, but just one more thing to think about:

    Check your insurance plan. If everything’s covered 100%, it might not matter, but c-sections tend to be WAY more expensive than vaginal deliveries. More people involved, longer hospital stay, etc. If your insurance is only covering say 90% of things, you’re looking at a potential difference of a few thousand dollars. That’s a hefty bill to get whacked with when faced with all the added costs of a new baby.

  10. I had a c-section and it was the best experience ever! Obviously everyone experiences things differently. I’d say for every 3 c-sections stories I hear, there’s 1 person who wasn’t happy with it.

    Mine was fantastic though! Absolutely no regrets. It wasn’t planned, but Baby decided to be 10 lbs 4 oz and he was NOT coming out on his own. I had great doctors and a relatively easy recovery.

    And now I’m happy I have an easy excuse never to have to try a VBAC – I’ll never have to feel another contraction and I’ll never have to squeeze out another 10 pound baby. As my nurse told me as I was being prepared for surgery: “Honey, I have 2 words for you. PERINEAL INTEGRITY.”

    If it’s what you want to do – do it.

  11. If you’re afraid of birth, I’d recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I was terrified until I read that book.

  12. I have to agree with some of the other comments that there is a difference with recovery if it is a planned c-section where you arrive well rested and the doctors are not rushed versus an emergency one where your body has had to go through the equivalence of running a marathon and then having major surgery. One of my friends who had to have an emergency c-section for her first one was in bed for almost a month, but with her second scheduled c-section she was up within a week.
    I was expecting a long recovery time when I had my planned c-section (my guy was almost 10 pounds and there was concerns he might be even larger and not able to properly be delivered vaginally.) Instead I was up and about right away. I didn’t have any issues with holding the baby or lifting him up and he was quite a big boy. I did have my mom helping me out the first few weeks with things like laundry and stuff so I avoided overdoing things, even though I think I probably could have managed and she was more educational than physical support. I was very careful about keeping my incision clean and didn’t have any problems with infections. The only real pain I had was when I would get up to fast on occasion and that was a momentary searing ouch, not ongoing. I felt some pulling when he was delivered, but I kind of liked that in a way it made me feel more involved in the birth than if I was completely numbed. I was able to have skin to skin contact right away. Even right after the surgery I only needed something stronger than motrin when I was trying to sleep for one of the nights I was at the hospital. That said it seemed the way the nurses reacted to things that I was up and about quicker than average so I might have been lucky to have one of the better post op experiences. I mentally felt more comfortable with a c-section since I had experienced other surgeries in the past so for me I knew what to expect from that experience more than giving birth vaginally. We are only planning for one child, but if we had decided to have a second than I would have definitely chosen a c-section again.

    I would talk with your doctor. Depending on your age, medical history, and other factors even if you are not being told that you must have a c-section, there may be reasons that they might consider it for you beyond your preference for one.

  13. As the others said: it is your choice, your body, whatever you choose will be the best for you and your family. But, you know, you can change along the way… Quick story short: due to my heavy past, I could not imagine that one day i’ll have children. Then, If I had some, it would have been with a C-section, no other way possible. Then, it was out of question that I did not get a heavy dosed epidural… Then I got pregnant… And then I fought for an drug free birth (in a clinic because in France only 1% of the birth are at home and in my area it was not an option), even switching OB and clinic less than 2 months before the due date. And I got my drug-free birth, and regret nothing. What I mean is: explore all your options, and allow yourself to change your mind as often as you want along the way… Whatever you choose, you’ll be the best!

  14. I’ve done both. Both hurt. But the c-section (for medical reasons, but i DID get to pick the date) really made for difficulties after, and it seemed to go on for weeks. Major pain meds are required, I took them for about a month, but felt awful the whole time because I was breastfeeding. Standing up, sitting down, walking, getting into a car, holding baby, doing ANYTHING sucks and hurts for weeks after. My vaginal birth, 15 years prior, was definitely no picnic; i tore, was cut, and he was delivered with forceps after pushing for hours with NO pain meds, but i felt much better a couple of days later, a week max:) Also, after the c-section, I was left with this poochy pouchy bit of skin (my kangaroo pouch) on my stomach that was definitely not there before, and didn’t happen with the vaginal birth. It has to do with them having to sew everything back together in the end. Any way a baby comes out and everyone’s healthy is fine by me, but given the choice, I’d do it the non-surgical way. Hope this helps!

  15. I probably shouldn’t be replying, as I went vaginal with both of my children. But I’ve been working with OB patients (many in a similar situation as you) for the last three years and I think I can offer some decent advice.

    First and foremost, discuss with your OB what you want. He or she should go over risks associated with c-section delivery (as well as vaginal) and will probably try to talk you out of it. If you’re uncomfortable with that doc, you can always (ALWAYS) find another one. Pregnancy is stressful enough without having a doctor you are not happy with. Be sure to express your own feelings/fears/desires. A doctor can only work with what information they have.

    Secondly, unless you’re super open in your family, they really don’t need to know the details of how the beautiful new addition to the family came into this world. If you are open about it, remember the decision is up to you and your wife and that if they say anything negative, it’s probably meant out of a place of love and caring and they probably don’t realize how it can come across. You can always tell them that you appreciate the feedback, but you’ve made your decision (or be less polite, you can always blame the hormones).

    And third, you may have a breech baby, your labor may not progress, or you might end up with any number of things requiring a c-section. You never know. Either way, I commend you for knowing what you want. I wish you the absolute best and look forward to your birth story, should you decide to submit it!

  16. At the moment, I’m still pregnant, but am booked for a c-section next month. There isn’t technically a medical reason, but the reason for wanting a c-section is due to a previous traumatic birth.

    Sure, the planned c-section could still be awful but for me, there’s no guarantee that labour wouldn’t end in a c-section anyway and, if the c-section goes awry, at least I don’t have to face the recovery of a failed vaginal delivery as well. The c-section is booked for exactly 39 weeks, but my obstetrician did warn me that I could still go into labour but I would be assessed by someone at that time and options discussed as to whether or not I wanted to go ahead with labour or go for an immediate c-section.

    On the whole, professionals have been supportive. I’ve been clear about my reasons and I’ve made sure to keep myself informed. I’ve read, and read, and read. Also, I’ve known my “rights” which here in the UK means that if an obstetrician wants to refuse my request for a c-section, they’d have to find someone who would agree to do it. My obstetrician was great though and was primarily concerned with knowing that I was informed and happy with what had brought me to my decision.

    As for family, they’ve been fantastic and understand completely and utterly why it is I’ve chosen a c-section. For anyone not aware of what’s led to my decision, I’ve simply said it’s what’s best for me and baby.

    So given that we have yet to have baby, we have had the go-ahead to have a c-section. Important points though: be informed about childbirth as a whole (c-section and vaginal), talk through all the points that concern you – leave no stone unturned! – and remember that there’s time to think about what it is you feel is best for you

  17. I was just like you TERRIFIED of going through a vaginal birth. I still tried natural, but my daughter had no desire to come out on her own. So ultimately I had to have an emergency c-section. My healing wasn’t to bad, but I had also had a major abdominal surgery prior so I knew a little about what pain to expect. One of the most important tips I can give you is if you do the c-section is to make sure you get up & start moving as soon as you can.

    I can tell you that if we have another baby that I’m planning a c-section so I don’t end up in the situation I was in last time. Good luck!!

  18. Hey hun,
    I had both of my sons through c-sections. The first was due to medical emergent circumstances but 4 months ago, we had Cormac through a voluntary c/s that I chose to have so my family could be present. We live in Cleveland and my family is in Florida so for our first, I had no parents or siblings around – which was a big deal since I am 1 of 6 and the only one to even leave our county. Everyone involved respected my decision and I stand by it. Being able to share my son’s birth with my family was everything I had hoped for.

    I healed quickly after both births (off meds about a week later) and was ready for normal activity and life with my two year old 2 weeks after Mac was born.

    I support you in your choice, and hope you have a wonderful birth experience when it comes. Best wishes, darlin.

  19. In the U.K., our medical guidelines state that anyone can opt for a section for any reason. I opted for a section the second time round. It was for medical reasons but my consultancy team would have still preferred I did it ‘naturally’ – whatever that means nowadays. My planned section was lovely. I had a really nice team, they were all supportive and ensured my husband was included as much as possible in the experience. I had skin to skin with baby after and I healed really well. A far different experience to the hideousness of my first natural birth, which sucked and I did not heal well from.

    I think the experiences of a planned section and an emergency section are going to be completely different. At the end of the day, body autonomy means that we can now choose how we give birth. Hurrah for modern science. There are risks in both and whilst I’m not an advocate necessarily for the sun roof exit, if it’s something you are leaning towards for your own reasons, there’s no judgement from me.

    And I’ve seen a few ‘what about the baby comments’ – if you have medically backed research that suggests that the long term outcomes for a child are poorer because they are born via section, can I see it please? Otherwise your shaming of mothers in unfounded.

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