Study Showing C-Sections Could Hurt Preemies Should Be Taken In Stride

c-sectionPre-term infants who aren't growing are often taken via Cesarean section from the mother and placed in the NICU. For a long time, this was thought to be the wisest way to protect these fragile infants from internal hemorrhages and other complications. But now, as with many things about birth, that thought is changing.

A new study shows that C-sections are actually no safer than vaginal delivery for premature babies. In fact, they may be worse. Predictably, many moms are taking the study as an insult. But they shouldn't.

C-sections might actually lead to a greater risk of respiratory problems and other complications in these infants, according to a report presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. In addition, these babies not only face consequences in the short-term, they also face them in the long-term. 


Babies born earlier via C-section are more likely to develop asthma later in life and other respiratory problems as well as cerebral palsy and learning disability. Then the doctor on the Today show launched into the whole "too posh to push" phenomenon and that's where she lost me.

I know the media tells us that this is a phenomenon and certainly I know there ARE unnecessary C-sections performed every day. But I think this whole "too posh to push" nonsense is made up for the most part. Sure a few women may have done it. Maybe even more than a few. But, by and large, all of us women want healthy babies and we want to follow our doctor's advice to get them.

That said, not everything that comes out about C-sections (such as studies like this) is intended as a judgement against moms who had to have C-sections. Some of the comments on the Today piece are downright oversensitive. Like this one:

I can't believe this Dr. She is always scaring the public. I have had four c-sections over the course of 21 years. Two of which were 16 months apart. My children are all tall and very healthy for their ages. My oldest was taken 6-7 weeks early, no problems. Third was about a month early. Also, they have all moved up a grade in school because of high testing grades.

The fact is, this is a study and it isn't talking about YOUR babies. It's talking about the general rule for the babies they studied. And what they found is that C-sections ARE worse for premature babies and it's in a baby's best interest to stay in the womb as long as possible. This does NOT mean:

  • All moms who have C-sections are bad.
  • All moms who have C-sections are "too posh to push."
  • Doctors force C-sections out of convenience.

Let's not read into it, but let's try to consider new facts and new studies without feeling sensitive about our own challenges or decisions. Maybe 10 years ago, a baby would have been delivered via C-section that now would be a vaginal birth BECAUSE of this research. Instead of taking that like a personal affront, maybe we could appreciate the forward progress.

To move forward, we all have to be willing to refrain from judgement and oversensitivity. Both are non-productive. Let's not assume that everything we read is a personal attack on us and our choices. All of us do the best with the knowledge that we have at any given moment.

Did you have a C-section? Do you find this insulting?


Image via isafmedia/Flickr

Read More >