Dr. Elizabeth Lyster: Women should try to have their babies by vaginal delivery. There. I said it. I know not every mom can deliver vaginally. And I know that not every labor ends this way, and that is OK. Cesarean section can be a life-saving surgery for both mother and baby.
The problem is when a woman chooses to have her first baby by scheduled C-section. People seem to forget that this is a major surgery, with risks that go with any surgery (bleeding, infection, internal organ damage, etc.). Recovery is longer and usually more painful than after a vaginal delivery. Most importantly to the point of this article, C-section delivery raises the chances of having another C-section with later deliveries to over 90%!
And here's where the babies also have more risk. A new study shows that babies born by scheduled repeat C-section are sicker than if born by vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). They are twice as likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care, and more likely to have breathing problems requiring oxygen.
The topic of VBAC is controversial, as is planning a first birth by C-section. While a woman's body sure does get stretched out by vaginal delivery, not all problems (such as urine leakage later in life) are avoided by C-section. I will always respect an individual woman's choice for mode of delivery. However, based on my personal and professional experience, and now with study data showing more risk to babies with elective repeat C-section, I encourage women (and their doctors) to make their best effort for a vaginal first birth.
|"Doctor Liz" is a gynecologist whose mission is to help women balance hormones, lose weight, and regain health and balance in their lives. She did her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, medical school at UC Irvine, and earned her Master of Public Health degree at UCLA in Health Education. Doctor Liz is in private practice in Laguna Beach, California and is mom to two active boys, ages 8 and 10.|