Is The C-Section Birth Control?

Is the C-Section Birth Control?

Did you know that women who experience cesarean birth (c-section) are less likely to have another baby?  Cesarean sections impact far more than the birth experience- they impact fertility too. 

This post first appeared on the Mama Birth Blog

I talked to not one but two women this week who had one child but had wanted to have more. What happened?

The thing that made them change their minds was giving birth to their first child. And they gave birth via emergency cesarean section. They were both so disturbed by the experience that they decided that they would have no more children.

We often talk about the impact of the ever-present c-section in our culture. People talk about how it can impact the breastfeeding relationship or recovery time or the difficulties in VBAC and even how lifesaving and wonderful it can be. These are all important factors. But there is something that is often overlooked.

The c-section is a cruel form of birth control.

I have talked to dozens of women who limit their family size because of c-sections. Sometimes it is because their c-section was unexpected, scary, and traumatizing. Sometimes it is because they were told that they “had” to have repeat sections and that they should limit their family size to three or fewer children for their own personal safety.

Whatever the reason, we must talk about this issue.

Roger W. Harms, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, when asked how many c-sections a woman can safely have says this: “Most women can safely have up to three C-sections. Each repeat C-section is generally more complicated than the last, however.”

He goes on to mention some of the risks of numerous abdominal surgeries. They include:

“Primary concerns with repeat C-sections include:

  • Weakened uterine wall. Each uterine incision leaves a weak spot in the uterine wall. This may interfere with future attempts at vaginal birth.
  • Problems with the placenta. The more C-sections you’ve had, the greater the risk of developing problems with the placenta — such as when the placenta implants too deeply and firmly to the uterine wall (placenta accreta) or when the placenta partially or completely covers the opening of the cervix (placenta previa).
  • Heavy bleeding. The risk of needing a hysterectomy — removal of the uterus — to stop excessive bleeding after delivery increases with the number of repeat C-sections.”

So, in general, women are cautioned against having more than three surgical deliveries for the above-mentioned reasons.

I have met so many women though who never move past that first traumatic birth experience. To me, this is one of the unspoken tragedies and cruelties of modern birth. Whatever you think of family size and population control, it is exceptionally distasteful that the way we damage women at the time of birth is so traumatizing both physically and emotionally that they actually change their life and family plans because of it.

We can talk all day about the monetary cost of the c-section or about how it saves lives or about bacteria in the birth canal and trouble breathing, but you can not put a price on the damage we are doing to women.

This is cruel. This is abusive. This is wrong. And, this is how we are treating women at the time of their baby’s births. We are literally hurting women so deeply that they are scared to ever bear another child.

I want to share some comments from a mom forum regarding this subject. These women say it far better than I ever could.

“My doctor has said that since I had so much scar tissue from my third c-section, that he doesn’t recommend that I try it again. We’ve decided to take his advice. Our third child died because of malformed kidneys, and my heart is longing for him, but we are blessed with two others, and God has seen us through it all. I know that if He means for us to have another, thought it may not be ours biologically, it will be a gift from Him. My advice to those who really want another child, but the circumstances don’t favor it–pray for guidance, listen to your doctor, and be content with the blessings that you do have.”

“i had two c-sections so far i am pregnant now and having 3rd c section soon. my dr keeps pushing me to have my tubes ties but i am married and only 25 i dont want to get tubes tied dont know what i should do???i have 2 boys dont know what this is? should i risk a 4th? or get tubes tied??”

I am absolutelty scared to give birth, my husband and i trying to get pregnant again, i had c-section in August with my first baby and the recovery was horrible thanks to a hospital error that resulted in sever staph infection and blood infection. I really want to go naturally next time but im scared to death, especially since DD’s head was 15 inches when she was born,”

I must not be the only person who finds these sentiments so incredibly tragic. Women are yearning for more children. Women are being pushed into not just unwanted c-sections, but unwanted tubal ligation. Can we even describe how cruel this is?

Lest it seem like I am just inventing this problem after talking to a few women (in fact I have talked to numerous women through the years who get their tubes tied after their 2nd or 3rd c-section or who are so upset by the ordeal of the first birth that they simply stop trying on their own) let’s look at a huge documented study supporting this fact: women who have c-sections have fewer children.

In fact, the study found that, “women who underwent C-section to have their first baby were 12 percent less likely to have another child than women who gave birth vaginally.”

You can read the study in full here, which concluded, “This suggests that the reduced fertility was to a large degree voluntary and not related to the indication, nor to any physical consequence, of the cesarean delivery.”


There are women who have half a dozen or more c-sections safely. There are women who love their surgical births. There are women who have traumatic births and go on to have wonderful empowering births later. But we can not ignore the fact that the impact of the prominent cesarean section is far deeper and damaging than anybody cares to admit.

We are talking about a surgery that is done about 30% of the time in the USA. We are talking about surgery that is the most common surgery for women. This is also a surgery that not too many years ago was done only about four percent of the time. The fact that the c-section is limiting family size is no laughing matter.

We can not ignore the impact of modern birth on the modern woman. We must take back our choices, our bodies, our births and our families. I wish I could say that there are others out there that will help us do this, but I just don’t believe it any more. We must own our choices, face our fears, and give birth under our own power.

We understand that c-sections, VBACs and so much more when it comes to birthing are very personal issues, individual to each woman. And, while we still stand by natural births being the safest and healthiest for the baby in most situations, we’d be remiss to imply that they were the safest and healthiest in ALL situations.

For instance, my first son died because I did not have a c-section. Of course, had I or any of my providers known that I had a condition called vasa previa, we most certainly would have scheduled one. Vasa previa is a condition in which fetal blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus. They are not contained in the cord, and when you go into labor and/or your water breaks, they rupture and you and your baby begin to bleed to death.

In my situation, there was only one blood vessel not contained in my umbilical cord. One little broken blood vessel (I’d been highly monitored and screened for vasa previa, but it’s unique presentation evaded the screening) made my son essentially bleed to death and me nearly bleed to death. He was delivered in an emergency c-section and then whisked away in a helicopter to a hospital an hour away while I lay there, paralyzed from the drugs and the blood loss, wondering what the hell had just happened. He died from blood and oxygen loss the next day.

Management for vasa previa is hospitalization/bed rest around 32 weeks and delivery typically around 36 weeks so as not to get near labor or those vessels rupturing. You most definitely schedule a c-section.

Related: When a Traumatic Birth Story Leaves You Ashamed

My birth story is extreme, I know, but it’s not isolated. There are MANY reasons a woman may need a c-section, and too often, she’s shamed when she has one.

That is not the intent of this article, nor our reposting of it.

Yes, vaginal births are the optimal situation, and yes, c-sections for convenience or ease of mother or practitioner should be avoided. Yes, c-sections are happening too much, and yes, they may be affecting future births for women who have them.

Let’s just be gentle as we remember all that as well as situations in which they’re life-saving.

Photo:Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock

85 thoughts on “Is The C-Section Birth Control?”

  1. I am so appalled by this article. Funny how the only women she spoke to had complications with their ceasars? Ceasars are necessary and make it possible for so many families to deliver healthy babies who would have otherwise possibly died during birth or suffered cerebral palsy. Not to mention, the couples who actively choose to have a caesar, like we did, and had an amazing experience.
    This writer is just as guilty of making mums feel like they have failed.
    I regret having read this article at all.

      1. She’s not talking about every woman. She’s talking about women who WANT more children and can’t because of a C-section!

    1. I can’t tell you how much this article validates my experience. Having a C-section was such an utterly horrifying experience for me that 14 months later I still have nightmares that I am pregnant again and have to get another one. I had no complications with the surgery, but being sliced open is traumatic to ones body no matter what and possibly (or certainly in my case) to ones mind. I’m grateful that my child was delivered safely, but I’m not convinced that surgery was necessary. I see nothing in this article that makes me feel as if I’ve failed. What does make me feel as if I’m inadequate is the laid-back attitude I encounter from others that C-sections are not a big deal because they’re so routine. I hate the way in which our culture normalizes surgical childbirth so much that women who do not recover from them quickly or easily are made to feel as if we are somehow unfit. Seriously, I have felt silenced until now.

      1. Thank you. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I was lied to and berated into a section because my doctor wanted to go home. After 20 yrs I recently went to the hospital to look at my chart. There was no high blood pressure. There was no fetal distress. I nor my child were in any danger. But we ended up with a c section after 6 hrs. We were told I had dangerously high blood pressure and the baby was in distress. No mention of this anywhere in the chart. I was given general anesthesia after the epidural didn’t take. I was robbed of the entire birth experience. I am now 56 and I fear I will never recover from the emotional trauma even though I am seeing a therapist. I guess I feel to let go of the pain is accepting the procedure. I will never agree that what was done to me was neccessary or helpful in any way. All it did was let the doctor get home in time for dinner

    2. the author is appalled by the lack of choice imposed on so many women, not criticizing *your* choice. when C-sections were at only 4%, instead of 30%, that was because women weren’t being forced into C-sections to get them out of hospital beds more quickly. they weren’t denying necessary C-sections that were needed: 24% of babies were not dying or having birth defects, that are now finally safely being delivered by C-section. 96% of moms can safely give vaginal birth. that 24% increase is mostly a hospital policy thing, and forcing women to progress through labor quickly b/c a 20-min surgery is far cheaper than a few extra days in the hospital bed, since billable hours by staff shoot up for an at-your-body’s-own-pace delivery for most women. if you choose to have a C-section, you are entitled; no one ignores your wishes. you’re appalled at even the suggestion that someone disapproves! but if you choose to have a vaginal birth, that decision is very frequently overridden by the hospital. that should also outrage you if you value your own choice to give birth the way that suits you.

  2. I would gladly take another c-section if it meant that I was pregnant again and I had a traumatic experience my first c-section that included 2 surgeries with in 12 hours of each other. So if I wasn’t struggling with secondary infertility I would take a couple more.

  3. I had two c-sections with no lasting issues. Recovery for me was pretty easy. I haven’t given much thought to the birth method limiting how many children I might have. Some women’s vaginas were so torn up from vaginal birth that they consider limiting their family size as well. Birth is somewhat traumatic by nature – it has been often deadly in the past (and still is in many areas of the world). So I think you could say giving birth causes many women to say they don’t want to have another. You quoted the 12% statistic, but that’s not a huge percentage and it did not take into account the preexisting health of the mother. Bad science.

  4. I was very small and had a very large baby for my first. My OBGYN said since my hips never moved and i wouldn’t diolate for less stress on the baby and me we would have it by c – section. It was less stressful for me and my daughter. My next two babies were scheduled c – sections. Again I was small framed but came out with very big babies. It was much easier on me and less stressful on my baby’s. 1st baby 9 lbs 4 1/2 21in. long; 2nd baby 9 lbs 4 oz. 20 1/2 in. And 3rd baby as big as I was they thought I could have been carrying twins, nope 9 lbs. 21 in. long. All 100% healthy. I wanted my tubes tied the hospital wouldn’t allow it. Since I was already open per my request. The hospital said no. So no doctor forced me to have any c – sections it was my choice. I just never got pregnant again. My last child is now 15 years old and I’m 52 yrs old and happy with my family..

  5. I have 9 children. ..All by c – section…I am understanding is that in North America doctors do not have experience with more that 3 deliveries per mom. My experience is the opposite..thanks to c-sections I was able to safely deliver 9 beautiful kids.

  6. I don’t think this article was appalling by any means. I had a C-section, not by choice, but without any complications. That still doesn’t mean I want to have another one. It’s major surgery…I wouldn’t be able to lift my almost two year old or drive. It’s just such an inconvenience in recovery! If you had a great experience, then you shouldn’t complain about the article, you should feel bad for those who had a bad experience.

    1. How do u feel after 9 sections? Weren’t that risky? I also had 3 section in three years. And I want to have more babies. But ppl says its too dangerous.

  7. I had a cesarean with my first (fetal distress, I’m told). I was urged by a doctor who suggested the second due to a possible uterine rupture after having 1 cesarean. The hospital gave me the scheduled cesarean almost 7 hours after the scheduled time because they were (seeing the emergency patients first) and didn’t rush me in until it was time to push. Had I trusted my own intuition more, I would have elected to push my son, who was my tiniest child, out. I elected to have a VBAC with the next child after being pissed about the mid-guidance of the last OB and due to the treatment by the hospital and it went fine, though my uterus ruptured with my last child. After all of this, I’ve attended home births by friends who had the most beautiful and peaceful experiences. No glaring lights. No beeping machines that have you thinking something is wrong at every turn. No person inserting their fingers every few hours exposing you to bacteria (which the midwife at a local hospital TOLD me she’d never do at a home birth to REDUCE infections, when I attended a friends labor. Hospital policy was the reason she gave for doing it so often and said, “at home, I’d check once upon arrival then let nature take it’s course. A mom can tell when the baby’s coming and can let us all know.” Maybe those who had a better experience had better insurance or was more knowledgeable ahead of time or didn’t live in a major city or heck, maybe they’re a different color than I am (which is Brown, by the way), but I hear these hospital and cesarean horror stories among peers AND family members of mine of mine far and wide. Things like these need to be spoken of more often as again, maybe it’s a socio-economic thing that the majority could either care less about or simply are not aware of in certain “bubbles.” Thanks for it.

  8. Has anyone here had the experience of feeling like or being treated like cattle in a labor ward? I’ve listened to doctors SUGGEST cesarean far too often to friends because of their discomfort as if labor is supposed to be heaven. How is that offered like a pain pill? Med students and residents alike just stand around and soak it up. My closest friend finished her OB, Med School rotation recently and came to me venting and crying so many times about how the women were treated like cattle and the “baby game” was just one of big money. She’s reluctant to become a mom now. I agree with the author, if women do not become educated about cesareand, educate the younger wives and moms, question doctors, or explore ALL of their birthing options then no changes will occur. I should never have to console a Med Student about the horrors she sees at the hands of her “mentors” where women and children, the most vulnerable citizens in a society (or anyone for that matter) are concerned. There are so few checks and balances for OB/ GYNs. There are far too many patients in the free women’s clinic that I work in who have had hysterectomies and at a YOUNG AGE! It’s scary. California just recently banned sterilizing women inmates without their consent ( Whoa……

  9. My only vaginal delivery was so horrific that only a c-section granted me the peace of mind to face more children. I’ve had fewer stitches with my c-sections and I have enjoyed NOT having my body ravaged the way it was during my vaginal birth; after my first c-section, I was blown away that you could actually feel that GOOD after having a baby. I don’t feel damaged by my c-sections; I feel delivered by them.

  10. 1st pregnancy – planned c-section due to baby’s size vs mine plus entering week 42 w/no signs of labor. I’ll never know if it was absolutely necessary, but I showed up at the hospital after a decent night sleep and had a baby in my arms w/i 3 hours. I healed quickly and all was well. 2nd pregnancy – planned VBAC, never went into labor after water broke, had a no-drug induction, labor failed to progress, had emergency c-section after being up for 24 hours, baby was in distress and I couldn’t hold her for almost 24 hours. I was so exhausted I hardly knew what was going on. The doc told me afterward that my uteran wall was so thin that a vaginal birth would have been dangerous. I sorely wish I had just planned another c-section. It was a much better experience. I was done having kids and already planned on having my tubes tied. The doc’s announcement that my uterus couldn’t take a 3rd pregnancy dis not bother me at all.

  11. Thank you. It’s nice to hear someone who acknowledges that c-sections do damage. I hated all three of mine. I would love to have more children but probably will not because of the hell c-sections put my body through. I feel like an old woman and saw a decline in my health after each c-section. The last two hit me hardest. I frequently have joint and body pain, sex hurts because of the soreness at the incision site years later and I have no energy left for my children. My vaginal births (other than my first *hospitalized, managed, traumatic* birth when I was very young) did not do nearly the damage that my c-sections have. I now deal with depression, anxiety, pain, yeast problems brought on by the mandatory antibiotics and my c-section babies are the fussy ones with breathing problems, sleeping issues, reflux and who knows what else.

    Thank you. I hate feeling like I should just man-up and be happy we survived. I just had my third major abdominal surgery and people are offended that I didn’t make it to their social functions etc. 10 days later. I just had Major Abdominal Surgery for flip’s sake! Back off! Yes, c-sections save lives *when necessary* but how many of them would have been necessary had the doctors/hospitals not created the complications to “save” us from in the first place? A lot fewer than most people realize.

    I loan out books on natural childbirth that no one reads, practically beg people to sign up for Bradley classes and/or hire doulas and no one listens to me until *after* they’ve been knifed. Makes me wanna shake people. I’m glad some people loved their c-sections. I really am. I actually thought I did too after my first but as the years went by and I still felt like I was going to sneeze my uterus out, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t so great.

    I just wish people wouldn’t act so butt-hurt after reading articles like this that stand up for those of us who are willing to admit that major abdominal surgery and a newborn to care for can be major problems for those of us who aren’t Superwoman. I wish others had tried harder to warn me and I wish I would have listened. But most of all, I wish doctors and hospitals would work with women and midwives to reduce the c-section rates so we’ll all be safer and healthier.

    1. Amen. I will always wonder if the septic shock my daughter nearly died from was caused by the hospital. Pregnancy was completely normal until last couple of weeks and I developed mild preeclampsia. After 21 hours of labor, we weren’t progressing. I had a c-section. They knew there was trouble right away. She couldn’t get oxygen to her belly. By the time they airlifted her to Denver, she was purple. The doctors didn’t expect her to make it, but God had plans for our baby girl. Today she is healthy and happy, and I’m still recovering. Hindsight is 20/20. Because of the preeclampsia, I would have had to go to a hospital, so I feel like we had no choice but to be exposed to whatever caused her illness. I give her robotics to counteract the antibiotics. You should start taking them. I’ll guarantee you have adrenal fatigue. Maybe consider seeing a naturopathic doctor and starting an anti-Candida diet? You can recover. God bless.

  12. This is one of the dumbest articles I’ve seen in Mothering. A person who has not had a c-section should not speak for other women who have had c-sections. My baby’s birth was traumatic because of the emergent and dangerous nature of it — not because of the c-section! The c-section saved our lives! Believe me, I am a hippy mom, I’ve had lots of children naturally. When I went in for my emergency c-section all I could think was “Thanks a lot to all the birth gurus who made me think a c-section was the worst thing in the world that could happen to me. Because now it’s happening to me.” Guess what? A c-section is not the worst thing in the world. The worst thing in the world would be losing your baby or your children losing their mother. Doctors and surgeons are looking out for us and trying to save lives. They are not the enemy. I thanked my surgeon up and down for all the years of schooling she did to perfect her technique. I had the absolute best c-section I could have. Very grateful. Me and my baby are completely healthy today.

    1. I am glad that you and your baby are safe and sound after a great c-section, but it is important to remember that people get c-sections for many different reasons. My first c-section was traumatic, painful, and probably unnecessary. It took me years to recover emotionally. My baby would have been fine with vaginal birth, if I had had better care. So to hear, a “c-section is not the worst thing in the world” hurts me and makes my experience seem trivial, which I guarantee you it was not. I have also, like you, had a c-section to save one of my babies’ lives and am very thankful for that doctor and that experience. I wouldn’t have it any other way. No two births are the same. My point being, let’s honor everyone’s experiences for their differences and their similarities.

  13. To the woman in the article who had a DD with a 15 inch head,

    If you are reading this please know, your beautiful baby girl had a perfect 15 inch head because for what ever reason the powers that be decided she should not travel through the birth canal. Had she made the journey her skull bones would have given her a vaginal birthed, small measuring cone head. So, if you make the amazing choice to have a vbac please know your child’s head will eventually be 15 inches, but it will squeeze to fit and measure much smaller when your bundle of joy arrives.

    1. There are limits to how much a baby’s head can squeeze, though. Yes, the bones can overlap, but too much squeezing can be distressing (and even occasionally dangerous) for the baby, and risk pelvic floor tearing. I appreciate that C-sections have their risks, but it’s worth remembering that vaginal births do to and sometimes it’s a difficult decision weighing up the pros and cons. I think that making it sound as though things are automatically going to work out with a vaginal birth without acknowledging that in fact things sometimes do go wrong and in some cases a C-section would actually be a better option.

      For that woman, it appears the biggest problem was the hospital error. I wonder if she has been able to get any answers as to what happened or reassurances as to what steps have been taken to avoid it happening again? Another factor is that she doesn’t mention whether it was an elective or emergency C-section, and it does make a big difference; elective sections are a lot easier than emergency ones, and often a woman whose only experience is of an emergency section doesn’t realise how much easier an elective prelabour section would be.

      Whatever happens, I hope she has an easier, non-traumatic birth with her next baby.

  14. It is NOT the C-Section that damages – after all vaginal birth CAN be equally damaging to a woman’s body. It is the lack of psychological support combined with society’s shaming of women who have C-Sections (and I include this article in that umbrella – I am disturbed at the words chosen here: TRAGEDY, ABUSIVE, CRUEL, HYSTERECTOMY, DAMAGE – HELLO!!! We are talking about many baby’s births here!) that means these women don’t recover well from the experience. It is well documented that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur after any birth, a natural vaginal birth or a medicalised or surgical birth. The difference between the women who fully recover from what THEY perceive to be a traumatic birth (and in the context of this article fully recovered seems to mean they then go on to happily have more children) is the emotional support they have during labour and how empowered they feel to make their own choices and to speak up for themselves, and whether or not post partum they have a similar level of support in becoming a new mum, in validating and accepting their birth experience, and are able to recognise their strength and value in the process of bringing a baby earthside. What helps too is if they have adequate post partum support to ease their transition into motherhood and are therefore able to reconcile the trauma/pain/difficulties of labour with the joy of becoming a mum (and what I certainly don’t mean is “healthy mother/healthy baby = positive birth).
    There are many women for whom a C-Section is the only way they can consider having a baby (sexual abuse survivors, people with extreme phobias, people with other life threatening medical conditions), and I wish for once we could read about and honour their positive C-Section experiences rather than perpetuate this myth that C-Sections are disempowering women and new mothers; it is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy because women who try to speak positively about their C-Sections have to face down this kind of article and other women who have been brainwashed by this type of article and on a subconscious level this means their positive experience is left feeling somehow invalid and “unusual”.
    I speak as a doula, and as a former natural birth disciple who after giving birth very happily via elective C-Section after a 36 hour labour (& getting to 9cm) decided it is high time someone spoke up for the positive C-Section experience.

    1. I agree with you that positive c-section stories are lacking (I had a great one after trying to have a HBAC, and bounced back fairly quickly). But I think the real problem here is not just what moms expect or think about birth, but what doctors are trained to handle. Hospitals are not often great places to labor regardless of whether you have a vaginal or c-section birth. We need better medical care, dammit!

  15. WOW, how an article that tries to talk about something important can make so many women defensive to the extreme… I did not think this article said anything about all or even the majority of “sectioned” women (apologies for the awkward turn of words) having had a bad experience; I do not think that it claimed that women who had C-section(s) tend to not want to have more kids. I think it merely opened up a question about how a traumatic C-section CAN lead to some hesitation about having more babies. CAN a c-section be a “tragedy”, “traumatic”, “abusive”, “cruel”, “damaging”? Sure it can! (Unfortunately, a vaginal hospital birth can be those as well…). So I think the topic is valid. While I am happy for the moms who had a good experience, and for whom surgery was the only way they could have a healthy baby and it worked, but for those who can relate to the sentiments described in the article (even if there are only 2 or 3 people!) we have to respect them by acknowledging their difficulties.

  16. Yo tuve un hijo por cesaria programanda y la verdad que no fue ni traumante ni nada por el estilo, es mas hoy en dia me doy cuenta que no me hubiera aguantado un parto natural… se que la cesaria tiene sus complicaciones, pero no es tan horrible como lo describen en la nota…

  17. For me wat matters most is holding a baby in my arms, I have 3 n I actually don’t regret being knifed coz da beautiful kids are worth it all

  18. “To me this is one of the unspoken tragedies and cruelties of modern birth”. Well, a C/S sure beats the tragedies and cruelties suffered by women prior to “modern birth” – maternal death, fetal and neonatal demise, orphaned children. Before C/S, women might labor for days, slowly dying of hemorrhage, exhaustion, or succumbing to infection. Babies commonly stillborn if they are born at all. How about a C/S performed without anesthesia because the mother is dying but perhaps the baby can be saved? How’s that for trauma? Yes, C/S can be traumatic. Vaginal childbirth can be (and is) traumatic. Yes, there are women who will never have a second child due to a traumatic C/S, there are also plenty of women so traumatized by vaginal birth that they make the same decision. I think it’s ridiculous to place the blame on the doctors and/or the lifesaving procedure for the trauma women experience. I’m not saying the trauma isn’t real or the suffering should be discounted. I’m just saying this perspective is wrongheaded and dangerous. If a woman and/or a baby needs this procedure to preserve the life and health of either, I hope this article doesn’t add to the trauma she experiences, or makes her second guess her doctor’s sound medical advice out of fear. Women can hope and plan for a perfect, atraumatic, pain free vaginal delivery; but that just isn’t reality for most. Birth is unpredictable. Women might benefit from the perspective that C/S is truly lifesaving for them and their children, rather than decrying it as a traumatic and undesirable outcome.

    1. when C-section was only 4% of births, no one was appalled. because those were necessary C-sections, not forced C-sections. and no one thinks 4% of births should end in tragedy. but now at 30%, we’re not talking about just necessary and elective C-sections. the number is that high because so many women are forced into C-sections. in the 80s, when i was born, C-sections were available, to help when necessary. it’s not like 24% of deliveries resulted in tragedy, so they upped the number to 30% to save that other 24% they were previously just letting go awry! i am so grateful C-section exists, in case i need it. but i resent that while a woman who chooses an elective C-section always has her wishes honored, i get none of the same respect for my wishes if my labor progresses slowly. my sister chose 2 elective C-sections, and neither she nor i have any negative feelings about that (even though she hates the lingering pain and intense scar itching, she accepts it as one of the costs of motherhood since she was too terrified to push something so big out of her vagina). i get that! i think she did the right thing for her! but neither she nor i think it’s fair that if i want a natural birth, there’s a pretty big chance i’ll be forced into a C-section if i deliver at a hospital. we aren’t on opposite sides here. we both want our choice respected. and this is what the author is talking about: choice! we ought to be able to choose our birth method! they ought to muster the abilities to deliver 96% of all babies vaginally, safely, again, then let every woman (except an unfortunate 4%) choose. it may result in more than 4%, because some will, like my sister, elect a C-section for psychological reasons, instead of somatic medical necessity. but it won’t be an appalling number when the # without a choice is only 4%, and that’s due to freak chance, not due to the hospital doing whatever they want just because it’s easier for them. if you want to love C-sections for the elimination of certain birthing horrors, i’ll gladly join you in that love. but you can’t likewise love forced, unnecessary C-sections that create whole new set of horrors.

      1. ^^^ awesome, yes

        “i am so grateful C-section exists, in case i need it. but i resent that while a woman who chooses an elective C-section always has her wishes honored, i get none of the same respect for my wishes if my labor progresses slowly.” hear hear!!

  19. The only complication with my unplanned c-section was the guilt spread on me by fanatics and their ilk. The section was fine. I high-fived the doctor about it. My baby is healthy and I am ready, willing and able to have another child whenever our family chooses to do so.

    This concern trolling fear-mongering fappery has got to stop. Mind your business, mind your own body and allow women to seek resources from evidence-based science, not emotion-based woo. Ugh.

  20. My sister and I just had this conversation the other day. Her little boy is almost a year old. She had planned to have another while he was still young, so they would grow up close. But she’s not sure she wants to go through another pregnancy because she had a c section with the first and was told she will probably never be able to deliver vaginally. She had a rough recovery and felt like she didn’t have the help and support she needed when she came home. She said for her, it was really a good month till she felt “normal” again. Meanwhile I’m pregnant with my 6th, and while the discomforts of labor are on my mind, they don’t fill me with dread or steer my decision to have or not have more children. Of course we’re just two women, and I’m sure there are women who go happily into a pregnancy knowing they’ll have a csection, and women who are terrified of another vaginal birth. But I think this article makes a valid point. That being that often (no, not always) c section is seen by the medical community as a safe, go-to option, but not always recognized as being a big deal for the woman involved. We ALL want healthy babies! And for some women only a c section will result in a healthy baby. But sometimes doctors are on a schedule, and they put women on a schedule. Sometimes they give pitocin when they could’ve waited, and cause an emergency that didn’t exist. Sometimes they schedule inductions for their convenience or for a woman’s convenience, rather than upholding best practices and acknowledging that induction end in more c sections. And because c sections have become so common, society and loved ones don’t always recognize them as a big deal either. Like my sister found. She FELT like she’d had major surgery, but she didn’t get the help and support that usually go along with major surgery. She was just supposed to suck it up and be a good mom. There doesn’t need to be any mom shaming in this conversation, and I don’t think that was the intent. I think the author was merely trying to say that c sections ARE a big deal, and need to be treated as such.

    1. I’d practically go back 38 years and have a C-Section. The things they did to me were archaic. Too small pelvis, so the doctor used an electric vacuum extractor, which ripped all the hair off my daughter, and caused me to push for 55 minutes on the delivery table. 4 years later, bladder hanging out, out was on the toilet when I felt something weird. I put my hand down, saw something pink, rushed to the doctor, only do discover it was my uterus, and had a hysterectomy at the age of 29. Bladder problems, wetting constantly, and don’t anyone dare tell me about stupid little exercises, I had my second surgery for my bladder lift by a brilliant urologist and gynecologist, using my own vaginal tissue to tie the bladder up. I’m 61 and it still works, but this is what happens when the doctor tries to “save” future vaginal births because of his strong religious beliefs. Give me the damn C-Section any day. Hurumph!

  21. i am sick of this magazine’s righteous views. Don’t talk about something you have never experienced never mind write a inflammatory article on such. Not all of us have been priviledged to have vaginal births-if that’s a priveledge? Please stop assuming you are superior.

    1. Kate, There is nothing superior about a vaginal birth. Just having the baby alone is good enough for me. Imagine living a hundred years ago and dying because of birth, bleeding too much, not being able to get the baby, getting an infection, the list goes on and on. Yeah, the self righteousness of those who think vaginal birth is right up there next to God if boorish, cultish, and obnoxious.

  22. I had an emergency c-section first time and then a natural delivery 2nd time round but with a forceps delivery. Recovery with the c-section was SO much better and despite being scared/shocked at the time that was moreso from the long labour that preceeded it. The only trauma I had after was guilt about having not had a natural birth because we have the ideal drug free birth drummed into us which I realise now is ridiculous! My c sec was necessary and was not a traumatic experience. Get balanced views before writing!

  23. I agree with this article, because I am part of the 12%. It’s disturbing that 12% is an acceptable number for the trauma those of us went through. Personally I would have loved a trauma free c section, but OB/GYNs interfere with labor so much that the cause more complications that force a woman into a needing a c section. Its not the actual surgery that traumatize, or the recovery, we’re woman, if we can handle labor we can handle surgery. The events leading to the c section were so terrifying and so uncalled for, that before we left the hospital we had decided on sterilization , we have one kid, and he will never have a sibling .

  24. The stupid is enormous. This author excessively bemoans the loss of a woman’s ability to have a truckload of children following a C-section, almost totally ignoring the small detail that the mother and/or child may have died without one. Nor does she bother with the obvious truth that every procedure or treatment has its downside; she may as well be outraged that people who have hip replacement surgery are less likely to run a 5k.

    Most stupid of all is that she interviews those who have had EMERGENCY sections, which are a totally different experience from planned. A, they are sometimes necessary, as I’ve mentioned, for SURVIVAL. B, as any doctor will inform her patient, having a section before one is in labor is a much safer experience than performing one on a woman in active labor, who is in great stress and pain, who may or may not have part of her baby hopelessly jammed in her birth canal, who has been dreaming about her vaginal birth for months, if not longer.

    And the author barely mentions in passing the women (like me) who had a positive, non-emergency c-section experience (like me), whose babies (yes there were more than one) were born perfectly healthy and most likely would not have survived otherwise.

    This is just the disappointing, misleading supposition of a woman judging other women for their birth choices. A Cesarian section, like any other medical procedure, is a personal decision, to remain judgment-free from all but those directly involved.

  25. “women who have c-sections have fewer children”

    This may be a true fact, but there are always many ways to look at the data.

    I agree there are many unnecessary csections, but many are necessary. For example, my friend with a placental abruption. Yes, she may end up with fewer children than she hoped for because she had to have a csection…but she would have one less child now had she not had a csection.

    So the section in her case, and any other like hers, was not an “abusive form of birth control”…rather a “lifesaving procedure that has a possible negative side effect of limiting family size”

    When reviewing the data, you also have to consider that some women are prone to having complications during a vaginal birth attempt (like my aunt with too narrow a pelvic opening)…so have to have sections with all their babies. Without sections those people would be less likely to even have babies, so of course their family size is smaller than someone else who has nicely shaped pelvic bones.

    My main point…fight the good fight against unnecessary csections, rushed births, etc. But don’t villify the procedure itself. Encourage people that most women’s bodies can handle a natural birth, but don’t suggest that if women just plan to not have a csection that they can definitely avoid one altogether. That is akin to saying that anyone who had one, it’s their fault because they could have done something different. In my mind, that train of thought is harmful to those with previous csections.

  26. I will not have another baby because of my c section. I have had three vaginal births, one beautifully natural (9lbs, 8oz, at that!), one traumatic with an almost abusive OB, and one born still at 40 wks 5 days. The fourth was an unplanned, unwanted c section, with neither I nor the baby in any immediate danger. I felt bullied into it. I love that the end result was a healthy, live baby. I have experienced the alternative, so I cannot stand in regret. I will, however, not have the one more I’d wanted in fear of a repeat c section.

  27. I love that you posted this, Thank you.

    I wanted to add my voice in response to those that are having a hard time understanding how speaking up about the science and real lived experience of people that have had negative experiences with cesarians might deserve to be voiced, and how that *does not mean* that it invalidates the lived experiences of those that preferred or enjoyed cesarian as a birth choice.

    I’ve seen this kind of backlash against the overwhelming amount of scientific date that shows that surgical birth has a HUGE impact on every single aspect of a birthing person’s life. It has come up a lot in my work as a birth and breastfeeding advocate and support person, and as a person who has had two amazing home births and a cesarian of twins (coerced) which has ABSOLUTELY affected my sexual life and reproduction choices in ways that my natural births never, ever, ever did.

    I find it hard to communicate with people who assume that the real life lived experiences of other birthing humans, and the raw data collected from that in a scientific manner is some how an insult to them and their birthing choices. If you have to yell at other people about how great your c-section was or how hurt you are that other people aren’t experiencing life exactly like you, when they are talking about *scientific data* (which in this case collates the lived experience of many, many, many people, of which you are not a part) you may not be as happy about your experience as you might think. If you are called to defend your choices when no one is actually damning them, then it might be worth taking a pause to consider what voice you are lending to the larger conversation, and why.

    Everyone has a right to their story (even the ones yelling about how bad other people’s stories make them feel!) and everyone deserves the right to be heard, and ultimately to HEAL. However, screaming about how things aren’t like that for you, and how much it hurts you to be told of other peoples suffering is not helping anyone to heal. There is a real break in sense, IMO when people assume that their story is the only story and that other stories that contradict their experience are somehow an insult or degrading them.

    My Philosophy: If it is not about you and your experience try to learn from it or walk on by. I think thumper’s mom said it best “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”and by that I mean, if you don’t see a positive way to engage in the conversation, just don’t.

    Thank you again for being a voice for so many. the flack you get online is part of the same pervasive,non-empathetic attitude that keeps people who do have horrible and painful stories and who were affected negatively by cesarians, from communicating about them and getting the help they need to heal. Even those like I, who have had a pretty incredible groups of loving people around me, suffer from the effect of this mentality. People that feel this way work in the medical community and treat people this way when seeking help. That is what is hurtful. That is what is not ok.

    1. Thank you for weighing in and saying exactly what I would have said if I were as articulate as you are… I’m sitting her at my computer scratching my head and going WTF people!? Do you really think the author wrote this piece to hurt you? This isn’t about YOU or YOUR C-section. This is about the culture of obstetric medicine in the U.S. today and the impact it is having on women.

      1. I’m sorry but that’s not what this article is about. This article is about the apparent tie between women having c-sections and women having to make different reproductive choices, as if that is the only reason why women make those choices. It is ONE reason, in thousands that have nothing to do with their c-sections. Birth can be traumatic to women in many ways, that doesn’t mean it’s “birth control,” that’s the road of life. You could have a total normal vaginal birth that to one person is beautiful and perfect, and to another woman is so awful they never want to do it again. No one is calling THAT birth control. That’s what this article is about.

  28. I appreciate all the responses. Thanks for taking the time to read this and share your own experiences and thoughts. Dialogue about this important subject is important, even if we don’t agree about everything. Please keep reading and keep commenting.

  29. I had an emergency c-section and yes it was scary and extremely painful, the scar reopened and was infected almost to the point of septicemia. I was extremely ill and hated the experience, and truth be told was devastated that my daughters birth wasn’t how I thought it would be and wasn’t what I had prepared for but in the end that c-section was needed because my baby girls heart rate had slowed and the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. That operation saved her life.
    Yes the idea of having to go through that again is scary but if I ever want more children it dosnt matter what I have to go through or what way as long as they arrive safely.
    Just thought I’d share my story.

  30. With my first child I had vaginally at 29 weeks because my water had ruptured and she was head down and ready too come into the world. With my second I was 34 weeks and water had ruptured once again, I had to have a c’section because she was breech. After all had tooken place and I was discharged from hospital I had to return due to an infection from the hospital which happened during c-section surgery. Worst experience of my life.

  31. The rate of C-Sections IS a problem. The US ranks near the bottom for maternal and infant mortality in the developed world, and has one of the highest rates of C-sections. These are facts. The US approach to childbirth isn’t working, it’s killing mothers and babies needlessly. C-sections a major surgery, another fact, that have very serious risks, fact. It seems ignorant to argue that c-sections are so awesome for our society based on the evidence that’s out there, and it’s weird to think that because your c-section was so awesome that must mean that c-sections as a practice overall are awesome. C-sections are dangerous, the rate of them is far too high, and yes, there ARE factually many women who have social and emotional issues due to c-sections. What is the problem with the author of this article opening this up for discussion? Are we so oppressed that we dare not even question the status quo for fear of being chased off the internet?

    1. I don’t have any problem saying the c-section rate in the US is too high. I have a problem with the language and assumptions being used in this article. This article ISNT about the c-section rate, it’s about the apparently abnormal realization that some women don’t want to have more children, or can’t because of circumstances outside their control. But more than that, the language suggests that doctors are “doing this” in order to “control” women’s reproduction which is simply not true in any way. This is not the days of Margaret Sanger, there are LOTS of ways women can control their own fertility that are a lot easier than c-sections.

      1. But more than that, the language suggests that doctors are “doing this” in order to “control” women’s reproduction which is simply not true in any way. – See more at:

        So you disagree with the idea that there’s a systemic misogyny underpinning modern OB/GYN care? Perhaps instead believing that after centuries of violence against birthing women somehow now we’ve moved beyond that and women are empowered in the delivery room? How can you maintain this kind of thinking when we know, factually, that women who have given birth are more likely than soldiers returning from war to get PTSD? Do you think that PTSD is a natural part of childbirth? That evolution screwed up with humans and somehow made it so that human females go insane from giving birth? The fact is that violence against birthing women has been happening since women started going to hospitals to give birth, it has changed over the years in the specific practices, but it’s still overall the same crap. These days it can involve being starved for extended periods of time, being restrained during surgery, being tethered to a bed or given drugs that encourage fogginess to get a more compliant patient, being forced to endure hours of painful fetal monitoring, in short being treated WORSE than a birthing animal at a zoo. I don’t know how you explain this, maybe you believe that these cases are anomalies, despite evidence to the contrary. Or maybe you sadly believe that birthing women who are abused deserve it somehow, maybe deep down what you really believe is that a woman’s body isn’t her own. I don’t know. I don’t know how someone could be so invested in such a broken system so as to get incensed when someone writes a sensible article bringing up a topic of societal importance.

        1. ‘So you disagree with the idea that there’s a systemic misogyny underpinning modern OB/GYN care?’

          Wow. Robin said absolutely nothing of the sort, and attributing such an offensive viewpoint to her is really out of line.

          Yes, there are big problems with current obstetric care. I think it’s crucial to realise that they go both ways. There are women who are deeply traumatised by their Caesareans. There are women who are deeply traumatised by their vaginal births. There are women who dread the thought of a vaginal birth so much they’re desperate for a Caesarean yet aren’t allowed one. For a woman to have an unnecessary, unwanted Caesarean is awful. For a woman to have a traumatic vaginal birth because anti-Caesarean dogma denied her the Caesarean she wants is *also* awful. Instead of focusing on one type of birth as the problem, surely we should be focusing on how medical experiences can be improved all round.

        2. 38 years ago I was tethered to a delivery table, hands and feet. We didn’t have the choice of epidural. I worked in labor a and delivery, and most of my friends were outside the room watching what they deemed “the worst delivery they’d ever seen.” After thinking on it all these years, and suffering the effects of that vaginal birth, I would have jumped around the table to get a cesarian, by choice. This nonsense that it is birth control is ridiculous, and the other surgeries I’ve had in my life for other things have been child like to overcome. I believe women should have the choice of how they give birth, as they do in other countries whose maternal and infant mortality is less. And keep in mind while you are throwing around our death statistics that we have alcohol and drug users added to those statistics. Methamphetamine users produce more dead babies than we’ve discussed here.

          1. “And keep in mind while you are throwing around our death statistics that we have alcohol and drug users added to those statistics. Methamphetamine users produce more dead babies than we’ve discussed here.” I’m calling it – Red Herring

            As far as I know the reason that the WHO recommends a c-section rate of <15% isn't because they want more dead moms and babies it's because they want less of those things. Unfortunately the US' c-section rate is about double what's recommended – meaning more dead moms and babies. The correlation is between c-sections and mortality – not meth or crack and mortality. There are separate studies that deal with those issues and any decent scientific study would control for these variables.

  32. This is so ridiculous. There are many, many reasons why women choose not to have as many children as they might have hoped. They’re not “birth control,” they’re “circumstances.” I have a friend who vomits her whole pregnancy and then decided two was enough. Is that birth control? I have another friend who has Crohns and had rectal surgery which necessitated that she potentially not have more children. Is that birth control? I have another friend who had a very difficult vaginal delivery and decided to not have more children because of the damage done to her body afterwards. Is that birth control? What about the women who, by no fault of the c section, decide after the birth of their first that they just don’t want to do that again? Not everyone is just infatuated by birth. Some women really hate it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know until you’ve done it, but fortunately there are plenty of ways to keep you from having to do it again. You know, real birth control.

  33. The c-section rate is 30% or higher for most hospitals. THIS is the problem. Sure, c-sections save lives and are necessary in some cases, but 30% of the time?! No. This is due to the cascade of interventions that doctors and hospitals use routinely. Instead of waiting for labor to unfold naturally, in its own time and rhythm, they start the Pitocin, the artificial rupture of membranes, and convince mom she needs and epidural because the Pitocon contractions are so awful. Then the baby’s heart rate plummets and the baby goes into fetal distress. An emergency c-section is performed. Mom and baby never had a chance at a natural labor because the doctors were too impatient and felt that their medications and protocols are superior to nature, superior to a mother’s body and instincts. When will they leave women well enough alone and allow natural labors? That is why I insisted on home births with a midwife for my children. I did not want to fight an uphill battle against “routine” interventions and protocols that go against the natural process.

    1. Yes to all that. My first birth was that exact sitar upon with the cascading interventions due to an impatient midwife. Even my husband who is very mild mannered said afterward that they seemed to be in a hurry. Then, when I refused the prophylactic c-section (there was no distress) they started on a brutal campaign of bullying and abuse that lasted *9 hours* with promises of food only if I agreed to a c-section, battery with fetal monitors, calling me a bad mother, etc… This went on for hours and 8 hours in when my baby actually did start showing signs of distress. But then it was too late because I already viewed them as the enemy because that’s how they treated me, like a vicious monster who was holding my poor innocent baby “hostage” in my uterus. Eventually baby was born with forceps, to a mom who had PTSD and couldn’t hold or breast feed him without puking for 10 days. Anyone who defends this system is at best a fool, at worst pure evil.

    2. If I had a midwife I’d be dead, as would my child. Then the authorities would have come looking for my husband. As far as piton, (my computer won’t type it out), I saw it used hundreds of times, and can’t remember one time a C-Section was needed because of it. It hurts more, so you can always refuse it. Maybe education of this is needed. And along with what I mentioned above, morbidly obese women are a factor here. Don’t go around encouraging every one to have a midwife. It can and is part of the death sentence scenario.

  34. My second (and last) birth was a blissful unassisted birth. I really don’t see why we need the medical system to be involved in this at all. Obviously it’s great for them financially to manage birth and have us believe that evolution screwed up to make us the only species that kills itself while giving birth (?!) but in reality 99% of the time we don’t need them and if there aren’t any problems you can safely bet that they will create some for you.

    1. It’s not a matter of evolution ‘screwing up’. It’s that evolution has to make trade-offs – something may increase the chances of survival overall, yet still have downsides.

      That’s what happened with birth. Having increased brain size has been hugely advantageous to us as a species, as has upright walking. Unfortunately, because increased brain size means increased skull size and upright walking means narrower pelvic size, the trade-off is that we’re less successful at giving birth and significantly more likely to have complications than other species (although, even then, we’re hardly the *only* species where mothers or infants are sometimes lost in childbirth).

      As a trade-off, it works – the degree to which upright walking and increased brain development have increased our survival as a species outweighs the number of cases in which a mother or baby dies in childbirth as a result. But, as mothers, we aren’t primarily concerned with whether our species is evolutionarily successful overall or not. We’re interested in our own survival chances and those of our children, and we want every single one of them to have as high a chance as possible of survival.

      Yes, most of the time both mother and child will survive birth in good shape without any medical help. But you would not want the experience of being one of the minority for whom that isn’t so and not getting the help you needed. I’m very sorry indeed to hear you had such an awful experience with doctors, but the answer is not to persuade other women to do without doctors, but to reform the medical system so that women can get medical help without experiences like yours happening.

      1. “t’s not a matter of evolution ‘screwing up’. It’s that evolution has to make trade-offs – something may increase the chances of survival overall, yet still have downsides.” semantics…

        “That’s what happened with birth. Having increased brain size has been hugely advantageous to us as a species, as has upright walking. Unfortunately, because increased brain size means increased skull size and upright walking means narrower pelvic size, the trade-off is that we’re less successful at giving birth and significantly more likely to have complications than other species (although, even then, we’re hardly the *only* species where mothers or infants are sometimes lost in childbirth) etc…” hokey rationalizations reminiscent of earlier scientists who argued that skull shape could predict criminality.

        Bottom line: It makes ZERO sense from an evolutionary perspective that a species would evolve to die while giving birth. Evolution does not work by assuming some outside force that will enable survival (i.e. surgery).

  35. i come from a family of 6 kids…..all of us were c-sections. If any of this was true, I would not be born, my younger brother would not be born, and my older sister and older brother would not be born. My 2 oldest sisters would. So maybe think about facts and look at Anne other families without making an article about fake things. 6 kids in one family, and you are trying to tell us that you can barely have 2 because of everything they do. Yeah yeah. Make an article about something true.

    1. There are undesirable risks, but, they are not as overblown as the study might suggest.

      For a 4th c-section, after which the majority of the risk is incurred, there is a 2.5% chance for hysterectomy and 2.8% chance for blood transfusion.

      The way I think of it is this, as a Mom who had 2 c-sections that I really would have not wanted to have (I love my children, I just wish I could have endured and made it different). However, not all hope is lost.

      The way I think of it is – if I lose my uterus with the 4th child, it will be terrible but, it will be OK. Because I will have the 4th child. To me the c-section is stressful, but I would still risk it and everything to have another booby-sucker. I love babies, I’ve always wanted 3 or 4, and the C-section risk is not going to deter me.

      That said, I will probably, again, attempt a VBAC, but, I apparently suck at birth so, I’m not holding my breath.

  36. From the article:

    ” A woman who has had one prior cesarean has a risk of 3 percent; a second cesarean ups the risk to 11 percent; at the third, 40 percent; fourth, 60 percent; and by the fifth, the risk of placenta accreta jumps to 67 percent, according to ACOG.

    The maternal mortality with placenta accreta has been reported to be as high as 7 percent, according to ACOG. ”

    Stop being so ignorant, the rate of c-sections IS a threat to women’s fertility – and their lives.

  37. I am glad I read the article, and the comments. At first I was ready to share the article with my family members (who refuse to understand that I felt traumatized by having a c-section), but upon reading the lashback comments above, I realize that my family probably are not ready to hear this perspective.

    My journey through pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting has shown me that women, in general, do not understand their bodies and are not educated in how the female human body can function naturally, and the medical practice does little to nothing to improve this situation. There is very little to nothing done to empower the woman who is taking on one of nature’s biggest challenges. It can be done, naturally or with (supportive) surgical help, but those of us who feel traumatized by inattentive (at best) doctors need a voice such as this author provides through this article.

    I’m a mom who had two surgical births, one under general anesthesia and one while awake, who experienced very few moments during the pregnancy, birth, or early days of parenting, that would have supported my emotional needs. The care I received during the second, less complicated, pregnancy wore me down and convinced me that my body was old and tired, and I have felt that way for the past eight years. I am, overall, healthy, but feeling bedraggled by “the system”.

    Thank you for providing a platform to discuss this

  38. I found this article dramatic and disturbing. It seemed to me the author is playing on very primal emotions to make a case against C-sections in general without much logical grounds to stand on. I know that the practice of C-section is overused; so are many other practices in medicine. I am certain there is room for improvement in hospital birthing policy to lower these rates! That said, I am SO GRATEFUL that my breech firstborn was able to be diagnosed prior to term by ultrasound, and then safely delivered by a C-section per my preference. I am so grateful to have had this option and to have modern medical practices available to me as a woman of childbearing age. The historical morbidity/mortality rates to women and children from natural births were staggering and would horrify most people today if we had to endure them. I am very crunchy in most all areas of parenting, and I certainly believe a woman should be offered the chance for VBAC if such is safe and possible; however, please do not discount those of us for whom C-section may have saved the tragedy of a damaged or lost baby or horrific birth experience. I would rather have my family size limited and know that odds favor all my children (and me!) surviving than have a larger family and have lost one or more children (or died myself) because no emergency options were available to help me. (And yes, I know breech babies can sometimes be delivered safely in a vaginal delivery, but that was not a risk I, nor a lot of other moms, I’d guess, was personally willing to take – it was a risk I was VERY grateful to be able to avoid!)

    1. but you don’t have to deliver a breech baby breech, you turn it around first. a good midwife is supposed to know how to put a long piece of cloth under your back & shimmy you side to side in a certain way causing the baby to flip around. doesn’t always work, but (a) why don’t doctors know how to do this as well as the midwives (which some people can’t afford or aren’t covered on insurance), and (b) why don’t we try non-invasive methods like this before cutting through stomach muscles which will never fully go back to normal? using C-sections first and foremost is a mistake. C-sections should be used only if the simple, gentle techniques don’t work. and the cloth on the back is far from the only method! there’s a lot of wisdom out there the medical profession doesn’t bother to know b/c no matter how much it sucks for the patient to be sliced open, it’s so easy and routine for the medical community to do. that whole attitude in general is disrespectful to women’s bodies and diminishes our choices. i have had surgery twice now and it is SOOOO much worse—more painful, more permanently disfiguring and disabling—than i ever thought! scar tissue is no joke. it is really disruptive to the body part where it is located. i am terrified to become pregnant only because i am so scared i will be forced to have a C-section if my labor progresses slowly or is in any way not smooth sailing. i have to put in a ton of effort and spend a lot of money trying to find a midwife who will help me have a minimally invasive birth. not everyone can find that or afford to do that (frankly, neither can i really afford it) and it shouldn’t be this special thing i have to hunt for. minimally invasive birth should be available to everyone who wants it, at any hospital you happen to live near. that has become a pipe dream for most. risk of hernia at incision and pain in exerted sewn-together muscles is really crappy for the parents who want to lift and carry and play with the kids vigorously, let alone those of us who are into physical fitness (yoga, crossfit, soccer, basketball, etc). it is not just about the birth experience itself, but about all the changes it can have on your whole lifestyle. it may limit your physical fitness, which would contribute to lower health overall, reducing your life span.

  39. I have five children who were all born via c-section. I tried quite hard to have two of them naturally but it was not to be. I planned to limit our family to three because a doctor told me more than that could be risky, but natural family planning didn’t work so well and baby #4 appeared a few years later, and then surprise baby #5 when I was 42. Would I want 5 c-sections if I had a choice? No. Am I good with it? Hell yeah.

    By all means, educate the world about birth options and these issues, but please be careful in speaking for those of us who have had c-sections.

    I’ve been through sexual assault, domestic violence, losing both of my parents, chronic health problems, poverty, the murder of a family member and the diagnosis of one of my children with cancer (she beat it). Having c-sections was really okay.

    1. Alicia, I have also been through a few of the things on your list, yet for the past year I can’t shake the feeling that the C-section was one of the worst things I’ve ever been through. I really felt as if the author did speak for me, and I am really friggin sick of being silenced by so many people saying that C-sections are fine. The perspective in this article may not represent everyone, but it is important and more people need to hear it.

    2. I guess it’s all in perception. When you have a plan and it’s not followed its upsetting. But when you are lied to and threatened for the doctors convenience it becomes a nightmare. So much more than just a baby is taken out of you. But having never had a normal birth as nature intended I guess you couldn’t understand that. Glad you’re fine with being sliced and diced. Perhaps since your body isn’t capable of birthing a child you should have stopped after one.

  40. This article is so obnoxious. I had a homebirth turned Caesarian. I’m over it, and happy with my healthy baby.

    Stop making it sound like most women *choose* to have c-sections. In mothering, as well as in most urban, organic, intellectual elite circles, most women do not choose to have c-sections. Get over your high horse.

    1. Nowhere in this article does it say that most women choose it. In fact, it seems to be saying exactly the opposite. The fact that so many women get unnecessary C-sections is the problem.

  41. It IS sad that c-sections limit family size. I had a very unwanted c-section for my first child and was devastated. I planned a homebirth vbac for my recent second pregnancy, but it ended in a very traumatic transfer. I did deliver vaginally, but only because I was crowning when I got there (hospital has a vbac ban). However, the OB gave me an episiotomy that tore me up sooooooo badly. 8 weeks later, I’m still in a ton of pain and dealing with serious and depressing complications. I will now have to have a c-section again if we decide to have another baby. After two terrible deliveries, I’m not so sure I want to risk it again..but I always wanted four kids, hence the reason I was so dead set on vbacs in the first place. Sigh. I have had such bad experiences with doctors here…it’s like they HAVE to intervene, even when everything is going well. I was minutes from delivering without an episiotomy, and I highly doubt I would have had a fourth degree tear without it. So now both vaginal and c-section birth have been birth control for me! :/

    1. “Sigh. I have had such bad experiences with doctors here…it’s like they HAVE to intervene, even when everything is going well.” As a lawyer i wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t what happens all the time. People need to remember that doctors are only human and like everyone else they really don’t want to be exposed to lawsuits. The first thing anyone would ask if there is a birth injury or death is what the doctor did, and if the doctor didn’t do anything, then certainly questions would be asked about that. So, from a legal perspective, intervene, intervene, intervene – so that no one can say “why didn’t you do X?” because you did do X, you did everything you could. Every woman should understand that going into the hospital, you are a potential plaintiff first (as is your baby), and a patient only second. To be willfully blind to these legal considerations is dangerous and stupid.

  42. I had an emergency section twenty years ago. I recently got up the courage to look at my hospital chart, as for years nothing made sense about the surgery. I was stunned to see that there were no problems with my daughters heart rate nor any blood pressure problems with me. My husband and I were both told I would die if I didn’t have the surgery. Lies. I was later told by a friend (nurse) who worked on the floor that my doctor had been trying to get pregnant and her ovulation told her it was time to have sex. So she sacrificed my and my birth experience (3rd baby, both other 100 0/0 natural with over 8 lb baby’s) so she could get home. I had long labors with the other two, 26 & 18 hrs. Yet after 3 hours my doctor starting talking section because I wasn’t going fast enough. I was given an epidural that didn’t take. I was knocked out with general anesthsia after she started cutting. I never heard my baby cry. My husband was not allowed in the OR and neither of us saw out daughter until she was six hours old. I have never bonded with this child. I feel as if I was handed a kid and told to take care of it. I am angry at my husband and am contemplating divorce because he didn’t protect me from that tyrant who yelled at me and forced me to give in to her demands for an unwanted unneeded surgical procedure. I developed adhesions which have left me in pain. My periods became so bad after this surgery that I couldn’t leave the house for 4 days out of every month.

    This wonderful life saving procedure caused me so much harm both physically and emotionally that I want to die to escape.

  43. I haven’t read all the other comments, just a few.
    I just wanted to bring up a few points.
    A mother can follow all the recommended guidelines for helping to prevent a C-section and have it all amount to nothing: Bradley method classes, healthy eating, exercise, breathing, knowing contraction timing, going in and what you think is the last minute. It can all add up to nothing fast, or in my case, slow. First birth I labored 15 hours at home and had very close, fast contractions and was shocked to discover in all that effort, I’d had no dilation. The pain was excruciating and, I did opt for an epidural, fully dilate, only to be told that the heart rate was falling after 14 more hours of this, and that the baby was not descending anyway.
    Second birth I held on without medication for 24 hours, but they wouldn’t even give me an epidural as I was not 3cm dialated and I caved and got a c-section.
    So until we can discuss better pain management methods than “breathing through” or imagining our way out of stabbing, soul-crushing pain for over 24 hours, there’s really nothing in the way of “preparation” a person can do. I deeply believe people have different levels of pain during childbirth, and I feel that the medical field AND natural birthing circles have just responded to this by pretending sheer will power can overcome everything.

    That’s where the guilt comes from – we are made to feel that lack of will power and physical stamina / inferior performance capacity is why we “failed”.

    But that is a separate topic. I actually do agree that the C-section is generally pushed as a birth control mechanism. I deeply resented that my OB (who was called in after the midwife failed me) – and who had 5 natural deliveries of her own – gave me 15 minutes to progress (baby’s heart rate was falling) before cutting me open. The more sane part of me doesn’t blame her. She was just telling me the facts at that point, and the facts were that my baby was going to die if I kept going under the pneumonia and fever I also had. The situation sucked and I do blame the messenger.

    But, during my 2nd c-section, which I did not feel as bitter about because it was purely my fault, my incapacity to bear the pain – I met a nurse who had had 7 c-sections.

    This is really encouraging. I want to have 4 kids. I’d bleed and suffer to have them. I’d deal with the crappy cut and dehumanization. The drive to have more children cannot actually be stopped by such mechanisms. It’s the most powerful drive/love on Earth.

    I’m actually surprised that a Mom would not want another kid after a c-section. C-sections are miserable experiences, but the child clearly outweighs them. It’s hellish but, it’s a bearable price.

    Don’t you think?

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