Motherhood is almost undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. Women introduce new life into the world through hours of agonizing labor and delivery, pushing the baby from womb to world through the vaginal opening. This process, as one could imagine and have probably learned about in school and documentaries, is extremely painful and could lead to health complications and even death (yikes) if proper care and precautions are not taken. While women have successfully carried on the human race through the birthing process since the dawn of time, with the advent and development of women’s reproductive health studies have led us to easier and less painful ways of delivering new life. Giving birth now has options, both personal choices for the delivery and out of medical necessity. One of the options of delivery women and their healthcare providers may choose is a cesarean section, more commonly known as a C-section.
What is a C-Section?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a cesarean section can be defined as “ a surgical procedure in which a fetus is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.” Women may choose to undergo a c-section, even if vaginal birth is an option, and are encouraged to do so if they’ve had previous cesarean procedures. In other cases, a woman may plan to have a vaginal delivery, but must undergo the procedure out of medical necessity for the health of the baby, mother, or both. A woman may have to undergo a c-section as opposed to vaginal birth if:
Contractions are too small – this is also called a failure of labor progression. Basically, the contractions do not open the cervix enough for the baby to enter the vaginal opening for delivery.
The health of the baby is compromised – the umbilical cord may be compromised or the monitors that assess the health and heart rate of the baby show complications.
Multiple pregnancies – women that are pregnant with multiple babies may have to undergo a c-section for one or all deliveries. This depends on if the babies are premature, the positioning of the babies in the womb, or other fetal/maternal health complications that come with multiple fetuses.
Maternal health complications – Women that are diabetic or have high blood pressure may receive a c-section. Additionally, women who have an infection, like HIV or genital herpes, have the chance of passing these infections on to the baby during vaginal delivery, making a c-section safer.
Placenta problems – The placenta, which develops during pregnancy to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fetus may experience complications like placenta previa, which can cause dangerous bleeding during vaginal birth.
A large baby – Some babies are simply too large to be delivered without complications for both the baby and the mother. This is rare, with only about 8% of US babies being born meeting the medical definition of “large baby”.
Breech position – a baby that is in a “breech position” during the time of delivery means that the baby is positioned to come out bottom or feet first, as opposed to head first. While medical professionals can successfully change the position of the baby in the womb, a c-section may ultimately be safer.
You and your OBGYN or primary health contact for delivery should have a plan and decide what is best for you, your baby, and your body. While you may choose to undergo a cesarean section, it is still a surgical procedure that comes with risks of infection, extended recovery time, and possible future pregnancy problems.
Stress Urinary Incontinence and Motherhood
Regardless of how a child is brought into this world, there are physical and mental side-effects and changes that occur post-delivery. One of the most common side-effects of giving birth is a urinary incontinence disorder called Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI. SUI is the involuntary loss of urine when the bladder or urinary tract is put under “stress”, which is just pressure. The pressure can come from mundane or high-impact activities, with leaks being triggered from something as small as a sneeze to something much more involved like running or hiking. These leaks occur because the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding nerves and tissue are damaged or weakened. We see SUI in women and especially women who have given birth, because a vaginal delivery can clearly wreak havoc on those muscles. But what about cesarean sections? Could moms completely avoid light bladder leaks by opting for a surgical delivery? It depends.
In one study, mothers that have never had SUI symptoms before were evaluated immediately after delivery for one year. The study concluded that SUI arose equally for women that had a vaginal birth and for women that had gone through labor but had to undergo a c-section due to obstructed labor. Conversely, women that had PLANNED to have a c-section and never had to go through labor showed a significant reduction in SUI symptoms postpartum. While the results show a reduction in bladder leaks and other pelvic floor complications, a c-section is a very serious procedure for both mother and baby and can potentially lead to other side-effects.
If you’re a woman experiencing light bladder leaks when you run, cough, sneeze, or bend down you may have Stress Urinary Incontinence – even if you’ve had a c-section (or no children at all!) Revive is a new bladder support device designed for women to help reduce these leaks from the inside out for up to 12 hours a day! Inserted like a tampon, the small, flexible device is designed to move and work with your body comfortably for all-day leak protection. Revive is reusable, effective, and available nationwide without a prescription!