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Cynthia FlynnRequest a Cesarean?
by Cynthia Flynn, CNM, Ph.D.

Q. Is it possible to request a cesarean for the birth of your baby, or do you always have to try a vaginal delivery? Do you actually get a choice or is that entirely up to your doctor?

A. The reason you will be encouraged to have a vaginal delivery is that it is much safer for both you and the baby. A cesarean is major abdominal surgery with a much higher rate of morbidity and mortality for both mother and baby. Plus lots of pain after the birth! With a vaginal birth, when you're done, you're done (unless you have a provider who cuts an episiotomy).

If you are worried about the pain of a vaginal birth, there are epidurals. With a cesarean, there is much greater pain and it takes much longer than the day you'd be in labor to go away--sometimes up to two years to completely heal.

That said, I have had clients who really wanted one. In most cases, they have a history of being molested or worse. They've managed to get their babies to be breech (don't know how!) so they "had" to have one. Or they've made it to 42 weeks and the induction "fails." I always feel sad for these women because I know they are doing the best they can, but I am sad that they have not had the help they need to heal.

I am also sad that our culture as a whole and certain TV shows have destroyed many women's confidence in their ability to birth. Thousands of women (about 300,000) give birth every single day and most of them do so without medical intervention. They do just great! We have generations of evolution behind us, and those women who were unable to birth did not produce children. Those of us who are here had mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers who knew how to birth a baby!

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