Myths (And Facts) About C-Sections

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about this common procedure. We set you straight on the four biggest ones.


baby-delivery-surgery

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about this common procedure. We set you straight on the five biggest ones.

Youve heard: If you dont want to wind up in the OR, watch out for doctors whose practices have higher than average C-section rates.

The truth: Before you judge your doctor by the number of C-sections shes performed, you need to know her patient population. “Some of our finest OBs have rates that are 60 percent,” says Hope Ricciotti, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. In many cases, thats simply because more experienced doctors tend to handle the kind of high-risk or multiple pregnancies that are more likely to be delivered surgically.

Youve heard: Celebrities always demand early C-sections.

The truth: Indeed, says Sheryl Ross, an obstetrician in Santa Monica whose office sees its share of boldfaced names, “A-listers are more likely to convince their doctors that an elective C-section is more appropriate for them.”

Most of them use their busy schedules and need for privacy as excuses. But doctors warn against having the procedure more than a week before your due date. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine study early this year found that babies delivered by elective C-section before 39 weeks to mothers who previously had an elective C-section had more difficulty feeding, breathing, and required more medical assistance.

Babies at 37 weeks are up to four times more likely than those delivered at 39 weeks to need mechanical ventilation, have low blood sugar, and require a stay in the neonatal ICU.

Youve heard: Theres no limit to the number of C-sections you can have.
The truth: “The risks start rising as you have more and more Cesarean sections,” says Ricciotti. Thats because the more scar tissue that forms on your uterus, the more likely youll run into problems with placenta implantation, bladder lacerations, bowel complications, and infection.

“If youre going to have one or two kids, a section is no big deal,” says Ricciotti. But as you start having three, four, and five kids, the risks start going way up.”

Youve heard: Youre always better off scheduling a section when youre past your due date than trying to induce.

The truth: While induction before your cervix is dilated does increase the chance that youll need a C-section in the end due to the possibility that the induction will fail to cause contractions, “in general, trying an induction is the way to go because many people can have uncomplicated vaginal deliveries with less maternal morbidity than with a Cesarean,” says George Macones, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.
Cara Birnbaum
Last Updated: October 21, 2009

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