Choosing Elective Cesarean


Cesarean Instead of Vaginal Birth for Your First Baby

If you are expecting a baby, you might be considering all of your birthing options, including whether or not to have pain medication during labor, whether to have your labor induced or how to feed your baby. Previous generations never considered that an option for birth would be to choose an elective cesarean unless there was a health problem for the baby or mother. However there are a small number of mothers today choosing elective cesareans as their preferred method to give birth to their first babies.

Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health are concerned enough about the rising rate of elective cesareans that they held a conference on Cesareans on Maternal Request in 2006. Many experts gathered to share evidence and research about what is known about the risks of cesareans as compared to vaginal birth. Findings from this conference included that only about 1% of mothers are actually electing cesareans with no indicated risk. Among other issues, they concluded that more research is necessary to determine whether or not cesareans have any benefit over a vaginal birth. And that due to the complications that can occur, elective primary cesareans should not be encouraged for mothers who plan to have large families.

Why would a mother elect to have a primary cesarean?

There are perhaps only a few reasons why a mother would choose an elective cesarean for her first baby. One could be that she has a fear of having a vaginal birth. If you have experienced traumatic events in your life, especially in the case of sexual abuse for example, a vaginal birth might seem traumatic to you, while choosing a cesarean might appear emotionally and psychologically safer to you.

Or perhaps you are a mother who has heard only the worst stories about vaginal birth. You might think that a cesarean is preferable since you can avoid the risks associated with giving birth vaginally.

If you fear that there are too many unpredictable things about a vaginal birth, a cesarean might feel like a more controlled situation. For any of these reasons, it is possible that you might consider that having major surgery would be a better option for you than having a vaginal birth.

Getting Behind the Reasons to Choose an Elective Cesarean

If you are considering choosing elective cesarean, the first question to ask yourself is WHY?

If you are choosing elective cesarean because of any fear you may have or a previous trauma in your life, please recognize that, while a decision to have a primary elective cesarean might be the best option, it will not solve the underlying trauma in your life. Choosing to have an elective cesarean instead of working on and healing from past hurts will only delay the inevitable ways that this type of pain can manifest itself. It is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a huge gaping wound.

Please consider the value of working with a therapist, pastor or support group to help you with the bigger picture rather than simply making a decision that requires unnecessary surgery. Even a sympathetic friend can be a good listener and may be able to help you process through some of the grief associated with past hurts. Remember too that healing from past trauma is an important step in making sure you will be a healthy mother.

If you truly believe that choosing a cesarean is safer medically than a vaginal birth, please do the research about cesareans and their complications. Your body was made wonderfully and perfectly to give birth vaginally! In fact, most of the time, both you and your baby benefit in many ways from the process of labor and having a vaginal birth. Cesareans are a good solution for times when the option of a vaginal birth is not possible.

(Please note: If you have experienced any trauma in your life, we cannot offer any professional counseling, however we can listen and validate your concerns in the comments below)