Cesarean FAQ

How do you spell it?

There are many names for the surgery that allows a baby to be born through opening the wall of the abdomen and uterus:

Cesarean, Caesarean, Cesarian, C-section, Cesarean Surgery. The formal British presentation is caesarean and that is what you will find in many journals, studies and articles. The US presentation is Cesarean but can vary widely depending on where it’s being used and how. BirthAction uses cesarean or cesarean surgery.

Is a Cesarean a Birth?

Wait. Cesarean Birth? Is a Cesarean a birth?

This argument comes down to one thing: Your birth is what you believe it is.

Some mothers believe their cesarean was a surgical extraction, others are so harmed by the events that they call it being butchered. Still others felt so affected by the experiences that led up to their surgery that they request another surgery in order to promote an idea of controlling the next experience and choose the time, place, surgeon. And while all mothers are impacted by their surgery, some mothers don’t seem to have that same anger or hurt about their surgery. Maybe their experience was better, maybe they were treated more respectfully, or maybe they haven’t reached that place of questioning why it happened or how to keep it from happening again. Once again, only you can choose to call your cesarean a birth or something else. Your baby was born, but the act of birthing is a personal one that only you can name.

Do I have to have  a Cesarean?

No. Even if your physician tells you that this is the best course of action, you have the legal right to refuse any procedure. While there are times when a cesarean is the prudent action to take to prevent harm to mom and baby or there is an emergency that is being responded to, it is still ultimately your decision to make. If your physician decides you need a cesarean during pregnancy for a reason that you don’t agree with, seek a second opinion with another provider.

My doctor said he doesn’t do VBAC so I have to have another cesarean. Do I?

No. A physician’s or hospital’s policy on VBAC is not a reason for you to agree to major surgery. If you are uncomfortable with scheduling a cesarean because you do not want the risks, find a new provider. Cesareans should be for medical indication, not malpractice protection.

So, is it an emergency?

In many cases, no. Cesareans can be emergencies and life-saving events that need to happen now. They can be emergent while labor is going on and the mother and baby are showing clear signs that a cesarean is becoming indicated. There can be situations where a cesarean is prudent, such as with placenta previa/praevia, where a cesarean is best to happen before labor. And some cesareans are elective, meaning there is no indication at all, the mother is just choosing a cesarean over other choices. Medically, any time a mother agrees to a cesarean without labor, it’s termed “elective” even if her provider is telling her she should do it due to medical indication. Unnecessary cesareans are a catch-all phrase for any cesarean that really didn’t have a medical reason to be done, whether chosen by mom or provider. Non-medically indicated cesareans can fall under the same banner but are usually in a grey area where there might be some reason for the cesarean and it’s a politer way of saying “you know there was no real medical reason to do this, right?”. However, in the United States today, there is one word that covers at least 1/2 and as many as three-quarters of all cesareans: avoidable.


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