Pregnant woman at the hospital

Have the birth that you want

The C-section rate nationwide is higher than it’s ever been. If you want to boost your chances of avoiding a surgical delivery, there are a few tips to keep in mind as your due date nears.

The C-section rate is nearly 33 percent nationwide. How can you avoid becoming part of the growing trend in the U.S. of surgical deliveries?

Don’t focus your due date

This is easier said than done. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you are given a due date — a date that becomes more important as the weeks march by and you grow larger and become more uncomfortable. That due date shines like a beacon, so when it comes and goes with nary a “real” contraction, you might be convinced that you are late and the baby needs to come out.

Your pregnancy can last anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. After week 41, many doctors will begin monitoring you on a regular basis to make sure that everything is fine. But unless there is indication of a problem, you don’t need to induce just because your due date is becoming a distant memory. Going past your due date is no fun, but keep in mind that many women go to 42 weeks with no problems at all.

Avoid induction

Inducing labor is an option for caregivers and their patients, and often it is offered as the result of a true medical need, such as when the mother develops preeclampsia or if her water breaks but labor doesn’t start on its own. Many times, however, doctors will offer induction to a mom who doesn’t truly have a medical need for it — often for convenience or because she’s past her due date, exhausted and tired of being pregnant.

Many inductions go off without a hitch, but if you induce a mother whose cervix and baby are not ready, then it’s an uphill battle. She is often confined to a bed with an IV and fetal-monitoring belts, which make it difficult to get up and moving. If the Pitocin — which is used for inducing contractions — doesn’t seem to be working, the amount given can increase to the point of causing fetal distress, which is a guaranteed trip to the operating room. A study found that women were twice as likely to experience surgical delivery if they were induced, which is a sobering fact.

Question size predictions

Many moms who undergo C-sections were told that their baby was “too big” to be born vaginally. Take heart — most women do not grow babies too large for them to birth. Often, the baby is born under the predicted size, leaving Mom to wonder if her surgery was really necessary. To be sure, ultrasound technology is amazing. With it, care practitioners can determine so many things about the health of both the mother and her baby. Determining size, however, is not as accurate as we would like — it can be off by a pound or more.

If your doctor says that your baby is getting too large, you do not have to consent to an induction right away. Do your research, ask for a second opinion and talk to moms who have been in a similar situation. Your doctor will have to eat humble pie if he is wrong, but you’ll be the one recovering from major surgery with a newborn to care for.

The bottom line

C-sections aren’t the worst thing that can happen to you. In fact, often they are a life-saving procedure for moms and babies. But the rate in this country is far too high, and too many moms are sectioned when they don’t have to be. With fewer doctors and hospitals willing to let moms try a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC), your chances of avoiding a C-section a second time are even fewer.

So if you can, listen to your doctor but try stay out of the operating suite by rethinking length of gestation and questioning size predictions. If you really want to avoid that C-section, just keeping these simple tips in mind may really help you in the long run.

More on birth choices

How will I feel after a C-section?
Why I chose a VBAC
10 Tips for having a natural birth

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