In The News: Study Finds Babies Born Via C-section Are Healthier If Mothers Experienced Labour First



Recently, a Scottish study published in the Journal of The Americal Medical Association suggested that babies born through a Cesarean section to mothers who labored first are healthier than their counterparts. Researchers studied around 321,287 full-term firstborn babies in Scotland over a period of fifteen years. These babies were born through planned caesarean sections. It has been determined that babies born through planned C-sections had more health problems like asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome than their peers.

Dr. Mairead Black, an obstetrician at the University of Aberdeen, points out that C-sections are normally carried out under controlled conditions unlike a vaginal delivery, whereby the baby is exposed to healthy bacteria in the birth canal. Therefore, babies born to mothers have gone through labor, have the healthiest start in life, even if it means that they were not delivered vaginally.

Apparently when you don’t allow a birthing to take its course, you inhibit several physiological changes needed to prepare a mother’s or child’s body. These changes occur towards the end of the pregnancy and prepare you for the birthing process, suggests Carol Akala, director of the nonprofit Childbirth Connection Programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

According to the CDC, in the United States alone, more than 3 out of 10 babies are delivered through a C-section. Earlier studies suggested a link between C-section babies and health risks like breathing problems and poor long-term health.

It has also been noted that babies born through C-sections, exhibit slightly higher levels of health problems than those born through unplanned sections. And, such babies are highly susceptible to Type 1 diabetes, with the chances of the baby contracting the condition increasing by 35%. However, a planned C-section does not affect incidences of obesity or asthma.

A Cesarean section involves making an incision through the abdominal wall and then the uterine wall to deliver a baby. The procedure could inhibit many necessary hormonal changes that occur during labor. The Amercian College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have issued guidelines to prevent a primary cesarean delivery safely. It involves the following:

  • Prolonged early phase or latent labor must be allowed.
  • The active phase dilation whereby the cervix dilates to 6cm instead of 4cm is when more time must be given to help the labor progress the way it is progressing.
  • Multiparous women (women with more than one child) should push for two or more hours.
  • Primiparous (woman with one child) must push for three or more hours. The pushing should continue for longer periods under certain circumstances, especially when an epidural anesthesia is administered.
  • Use forceps if needed to help a vaginal delivery progress.
  • Moms should not gain excessive weight during pregnancy.
  • Non-medical interventions such as continuous support during labor and delivery must be made increasingly accessible.
  • The external cephalic version should be performed in the case of a breech presentation.
  • If a woman has twin gestations, and the first twin is in a cephalic presentation, then she should be permitted with a trial of labor.

Most Cesarean deliveries are carried out in the case of a previous Cesarean delivery, dystocia, breech presentation, or fetal distress. The C-section was initially meant for separating the mother and the fetus to save the life of the fetus of a moribund patient. However, today it is a procedure adopted to overcome fetal or maternal complications that are inconducive to vaginal delivery – either due to mechanical limitations or to make a safe delivery for either the fetal or maternal benefit.

So, you should opt for a C-section, only when there is a pressing medical need. But, don’t panic if you have to undergo the procedure eventually. The risks that we outline above, are mere possibilities. With the proper care, you can raise a healthy child.


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