A friend of mind just had a C-section. (Most of this information is from a mutual friend. Something tells me that my strong pro-natural stance and this friend’s strong “doctor-knows-best” stance won’t mix well, so we rarely discuss the topic of pregnancy, birth, and babies.)
At 37 weeks, her baby was breech, and she had a lot of amniotic fluid (which is a known risk factor or reason for breech presentation), so they scheduled her C-section for 38 weeks. In the previous week, the baby’s position had changed from breech to transverse to vertex, so he obviously could move quite a bit. I asked why they couldn’t wait until her water broke and/or she went into labor naturally to determine the baby’s position then–considering how much he had changed position in just that week, it seemed logical that he could change position yet again in the final 2-4 weeks of term. Her doctor told her that the larger the baby, the harder the recovery after a C-section, so wanted to do it earlier rather than later.
But at the next week’s appointment, the baby had moved head-down, so an induction was scheduled for 39 weeks. I questioned why she should wait two weeks to be induced if they were ready to do a section at 38 weeks and the baby was head-down, and was told that the doctor didn’t like to induce before 39 weeks. I wondered then why they would induce at all, and she said that it was to make sure the baby didn’t flip back to breech or transverse again.
So she was induced. I’m not sure what her Bishop’s score was. She went into the hospital at 4:30 in the morning (so she obviously had a great night’s sleep, don’t you think?) to begin the induction. Of course, since she was induced, the pain from contractions was much stronger (natural contractions use natural oxytocin which your brain translates as a “feel-good” sensation, increasing your ability to cope with pain [it’s what floods your body during orgasm]; artificial oxytocin does not cross into the brain, so you just get the pain), and she had an epidural mid-morning. It had to be turned off because it made her blood pressure bottom out, but she was able to get it turned back on again after several hours. So she finally dilated completely and started pushing. She pushed for two hours, undoubtedly lying down or at most semi-sitting, and her baby’s heartbeat started dropping, so they did a C-section. The baby was born blue, so he was taken to the nursery, and she didn’t get to see him for at least the first few hours.
My doula/childbirth instructor friend Joni said, “I’ve attended over 750 births, not one of them a planned C-section, but many of them managed in such a way as to make a C-section inevitable.”
My intent here is not to blame my friend for the outcome–far from it. But it’s like surveying the scene of a car wreck–you want to know what caused the wreck so that you can avoid future car wrecks. She made her choice based on the information she had at hand. She might have made a different choice had she been presented more information; perhaps not. To be perfectly honest, she would have done whatever her doctor recommended, so I cannot really say that she made the best choice she could at the time, because she simply endorsed the recommendation of her doctor. It was her own free choice; but had her doctor encouraged her to wait until later, she would have done it; had her doctor said she was a poor candidate for an induction and recommended that they wait a few days, she would have done it. Our mutual friend said, “She wanted to avoid a C-section so badly!” And I believe it… but she didn’t want it badly enough to refuse an induction. Still, there is the possibility that her baby might have moved out of his vertex presentation, and then she would have had a C-section anyway.