Failure to Progress Isn't a Good Reason for C-Section

pregnant woman in hospitalFor some reason I am terribly concerned with the way women give birth. In the beginning of my own pregnancy (with twins), I became really interested in reading everything I could to have a natural birth. I had the opposite because of a terrifying diagnosis with preeclampsia HELLP syndrome. Maybe I want to live vicariously though the hypnobirthing and all-natural labors I didn't get to have.

The fact is that the majority of us are under-informed when it comes to birth and it's the feminist in me that wants women to have the best birth possible. Even if that means some people will totally hate on me for being a birth advocate. If one woman learns something and becomes empowered and has an amazing natural birth as a result, then it's worth the cost of people telling me to mind my own business. Or worse.

So in my latest chapter of birth advocacy, I'm going to say that a diagnosis of failure to progress is not a good reason to get a c-section.


Before some get ready with their daggers of hate, know this: If you already went through your birth and it was a c-section because of an emergency and it was really, really necessary, then this isn't about you. And I'm hugging you because that's what happened to me.

If you are completely hell-bent on wanting to schedule your "unnecessary" c-section and don't care about any of the good information out there on pregnancy blogs and websites, then this isn't for you either. And, really, why are you even reading this if you don't care about the info out there?

So here's my thought on why failure to progress isn't a good reason for a c-section. Ready? You sure? Okay, maybe, just maybe baby isn't ready to come out. You know, little bean could be busy getting ready for her big debut in the world and perhaps it's too cozy and warm in the womb and she's not ready for her entrance. Maybe just maybe he has a little business transaction with all the nutrients and body forming and all that stuffs that it isn't really time to come out just yet.

Get this ... there was a study on the incredible rise in cesarean rates by the smart people at Yale School of Medicine and the lead researcher, Jessica Illuzzi M.D. of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, said:

We found that more objective reasons, such as the baby being in a breech position and placenta previa, remained stable over time, while less objective reasons, such as slow progress in labor and concerns about fetal heart tracings contributed large proportions (>50%) to the increasing primary cesarean delivery rate.

Okay so that means, in my translation, doctors are telling women they should go for a c-section even when they don't necessarily need to -- slow progress in labor isn't always a reason to say hey yeah, let's just skip this vaginal route and go straight to the OR. Sometimes it IS a good reason yes -- depending on the circumstance. But maybe your due date is wrong -- many are off by two weeks. Two weeks! So if you are in Week 39 and baby isn't budging after some false/early labor, then realize maybe it's not time. Birth at 40 or 41 weeks isn't a bad thing! Go home. Skip the labor inducing synthetic drugs that might lead you to a forced c-section after hours of unnecessarily intensified labor (because of the drugs) and wait for baby to come naturally.

And also realize that labor can last for days -- and that's okay. Doctors shouldn't treat perfectly healthy moms-to-be like they have to deliver now. 

And yet, OBs tell pregnant women who are experiencing labor pains that the birth is falling under the category of FAILURE TO PROGRESS! That sounds like a frightening thing to tell a person because, well, "failure" isn't one of those nicer words that makes you feel like you can birth a baby. It's basically saying you suck as a pregnant woman and we are no longer trusting your body to do this birth thing.

Bottom line: We need to trust ourselves. We can't always trust our doctors. We can sometimes, but not always. We should find out what our OBGYN's c-section rate is prior to letting them attend our birth. We need to trust birth. We cannot always think failure to progress means we fail at vaginal birth.

What do you think of these findings? Do you believe failure to progress is a legitimate reason to have a c-section? Why or why not?


Image via Cam Vilay/Flickr

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