Traditionally, the decision to deliver a baby by cesarean section (C-section) was made by a woman’s obstetrician. It was based purely on medical reasons such as a baby in the “breech” position (head-up, bottom-down) or a cervix that wouldn’t fully dilate.
These days, women realize that there are other potential reasons to favor a C-section over a vaginal delivery, and more women are asking their doctors to perform planned cesarean sections. Though C-sections are generally very straightforward operations with low complication rates, it is important to factor in the pros and cons when choosing the mode of delivery.
Some advantages of a planned C-section include:
Knowing the birth date well in advance. For those women who like being prepared, scheduling a C-section instead of waiting to go into labor can make the logistics of childbirth seem much more manageable. However, nothing is for certain since there is no way to control whether labor will happen before the scheduled date.
Preserving the vagina. It is pretty common knowledge that things just aren’t the same after having a vaginal birth. Feeling “looser,” leaking urine, and even the inability to control bowel movements can result from vaginal births. However, research studies show that women having C-sections do not necessarily fare better.
Avoiding the pain of labor. Contractions during labor and delivery are known to cause extreme pain, which many of us would prefer to avoid if possible. Scheduling a C-section could obviate the need for labor except that some women will go into labor before the planned date. Additionally, the post-birth pain after a C-section is far worse than the pain following a vaginal delivery. So if avoidance of pain is the motivation, remember that an epidural during labor works wonders.
These are just some of the issues that need to be taken into account when deciding whether a planned C-section is right for you. Other risks and benefits that are specific to you and your particular pregnancy will also need to be factored in and discussed between you and your healthcare provider.