Originally titled "Cesarean Ignorance" until I went to all the work of compiling the list.

So, I read a surprising comment today--someone believing the risk of amniocentesis outweighs the risk of a cesarean to the baby. She said that a cesarean has its risks, but amnio could be the end of the world.

Do people really think a cesarean is that SAFE? I'm sorry, but it's not. And while, yes, the risks to mom are higher than risks to baby, just because those risks are frightening and include horrific infections, infertility, death, etc. does not make the risks to baby insignificant (and they are still greater than to a baby born vaginally).

Here's just the short list, so you don't have to drag through all the papers and sources I have.

Risks to baby from cesarean section birth

Breathing problems[1]

weakened immune system[2]

digestive problems[3]

fetal injury[4]

diabetes (risk is 20% greater for babies born by c-birth)[5]

asthma (risk is 50% greater)[6]

neonatal depression (from anesthesia)[7]

hospital borne infections (rate is higher due to the longer stay after a c-birth)[8]

neonatal mortality (risk rises from .62 to 1.77)[9]

and increased risk of SIDS[10]

Low APGARS[11]

There's the list of the most common side effects. I know that most people aren't aware of them, so that's why I compiled a list here. I couldn't find a comprehensive list anywhere else. I may expand this journal with a short synopsis of each condition at a later date.

My daughter was born by cesarean, beautifully, APGARS of 9, no side effects that we know of. But that doesn't negate that these risks are real and any baby born by cesarean could be affected in one of the ways above. It's important to be informed about the potential risks in any procedure being performed on you or your baby.

[8]Pai, Madhukar. 2000. “Medical Interventions: Caesareans Sections as a Case Study.” Economic and Political Weekly 35 (31): 2755-2761.

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 7:48 AM

nicely done, i am so glade i went for the epidural than the c-birth! 

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:25 AM

what if I had an emergency c-section because either leaving her in there or going thru labor/being induced would of both been very very bad for her health? Not mine, mine was never at risk. But having low amniotic fluid and her being breech...... there was just no way. She could of died in my tummy any minute, and being at 36 weeks, the doctor said it was better to just take her out.

She was in the NICU for 2 weeks (5 days on ventilator) the rest on oxygen until her lungs were finally mature and healthy to come home.

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:38 AM

I totally agree, Xak. My boys were born via c/s as well, and fortunately, are fine. But, women still need to be informed of the risks of c/s and weigh their options. 

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:52 AM

thank you for posting this. it is great information

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:59 AM I love your last line about being informed...women need to know and consent, not be taken advantage of. And obviously, when the baby is in more danger than a cs risks, its necessary.

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 9:28 AM

Sylfer, there's nothing to be defensive about when you had a c-section due to legitimate need.  I had 3 medically necessary surgical births.  They were legitimately needed.  However that doesn't negate the risks of surgery.  They're still there.  For you and I, they may be outweighed by the risks of vaginal birth because of our circumstances, but they still exist.  I've only ever heard a few whackadoos say that all cesareans are unnecessary, for the most part even the most vocal activists admit they have their place and can be lifesaving, but should be limited to those cases.  The number of unnecessary surgical births in this country are staggering.  It's just not worth the risk in those cases.

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 10:17 AM


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Nov. 6, 2008 at 11:45 AM

clappingmy dr wanted to do an unnecessary csect  becausehe didnt think i should have gone over 25hrs of labor & he wanted to get home but i labored for 27 hrs w/out drugs but im more informed now than i was at that time so yes do research & be informed

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Nov. 6, 2008 at 3:24 PM

Exactly--cesareans have their place. But "for mom's convenience" shouldn't be one of them--most moms don't even realize that those risks are present. They figure "eh, cesareans happen all the time, I'm sure they're safe!" and they're not. It's totally unfair to them and their babies, especially the mothers who then LOSE those babies who might have been fine had they simply been born the way they were supposed to. I'm just dispelling a myth--cesareans are major abdominal surgery, not made safe just because they happen so often, unfortunately. And as I said, my daughter had no complications and really, her birth might not have been a necessary cesarean or it might have been, I can't know.

But it's not a decision to make lightly and very important information for those, like me, seeking VBAC to know--as doctors push unnecessary cesareans in the highest numbers with mothers who have had one previously. It seems so easy to just go ahead and schedule it. And with that form they hand out that says the risks for mother are higher than for baby--as though mom is having a VBAC for sefish reasons!--is horrid and moms should know that yes, risk for her is higher, but risk for baby (in comparison to baby, not mom) is higher, too.

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Dec. 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM

What a great journal! When I hear women tell me that c-section is safer than vaginal deliveries I want to scream! Or when they tell me that they are choosing a c-section to prevent their coochie from being stretched out I seriously want to shake some sense into them! Give me a break! Well done. Well researched!

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