I recently had a pregnant patient ask me this question.
I had to think about how to best respond. Is a C-section really that horrible? I mean… in my decade of practice I have seen MANY prenatal patients… most of which were able to avoid a c-section under my care, by using specific low force techniques we were able to allow for a vaginal delivery. Were they better off for avoiding? Was it simply their desire, linked with mine to aid, or is there more benefits than the obvious?
In, what is, a life or death scenario of a baby not positioned properly or not advancing through birth appropriately. Is a C-section the right choice? ABSOLUTELY. Your Obstetrician or Midwife are astutely trained to detect fetal distress, and move you in the direction most safe and healthy for the survival of the baby and the mother.
Where I was struggling to answer my patient was in the fact that everything I do with a prenatal patient is to help avoid such situations to the best of our abilities. How do I do that? It’s dependent on the situation, really. With some Moms it is simply through regular adjustments and maintaining good pelvic motion. With others it may be recommending lifestyle changes. Whereas, with some we may have to use specific techniques, like the Webster technique to allow a breech baby to turn on their own. Often it is a combination of all of the above listed.
But Why is a C-section a bad thing?
Well… that is an involved answer to be honest.
There are the obvious reasons associated with healing after the fact. Difficulty in doing daily activities during the healing process can make the first 6 weeks with baby more of a challenge.
There are also reasons that one may not suspect though. In a study published in November 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics they found that there is an associated risk of Chronic Immune Disorders associated with C-section deliveries.
Specifically, they found that children delivered via C-section “had significantly increased risk of asthma, systemic connective tissue disorders, juvenile arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, immune deficiencies, and Leukemia.” Is this to say that every child born via C-section is going to suffer from Chronic Immune Disorders? Of course not. That’s just silly, however, seeing a raised incidence over the vaginal birth section is alarming.
What is the solution?
It’s not so crazy… try to reduce the incidences of C-section WHERE POSSIBLE. What does this mean? Working in coordination with Midwives, OB’s and Douala’s to ensure that Parents-to-be are educated as to what is available to help in a safe and natural way. Allow mothers who had a C-Section in a prior delivery to at least try on their next delivery. Be ready, by all means, but try to reduce the incidence. Promote things like Chiropractic among those showing signs of a breech baby (And even if things are going “perfect”!). Promote healthy seating and ergonomic options for Mom-to-be at work. Allow for Breech deliveries… and simply follow up to ensure the Baby is fine after the fact.
Are we going to eliminate ALL C-sections? No, there will still be Emergencies despite all best efforts. Can we dramatically reduce the volume currently? I think so!
Anyways… long winded answer aside… I hope this finds you all healthy and well. If you know a pregnant Mom who might benefit from knowing a bit more. Please pass this along.
Dr. Matt Lindsay, DC