Should you get a C-section?

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I was out to lunch the other day with a fellow Bangkok expat who is rapidly approaching her due date. It sounds trite to say she glowed, but really there is no other word for it—she has wanted another baby for some time, and couldn’t be happier about it. The pregnancy has been a smooth one thus far, and by all indications she will soon be caring for two adorable, healthy children.

I asked her casually where she was going to go for the big day, and to my surprise, she said she wasn’t sure.

“I’ve spoken to several doctors now, and they keep trying to talk me into a C-section,” she said, clearly frustrated. “I’ve said repeatedly that I want a natural birth, and I don’t feel comfortable with someone who won’t respect my decision. I can’t understand why a doctor would even let a woman go through with that.”

Should you get a C-section?

Cesarean sections, for better or for worse, are more common in Thailand than in many parts of the world. How you give birth is, needless to say, not a decision you should take lightly, and you absolutely should find a doctor who will listen to you. Like anything else though, there are pros and cons to having a C-section.

“Read our blog post Natural Birth: It’s a Spiritual Affair for a discussion on birthing options from the doctors at Samitivej Hospital”

Why you should consider a C-section

There is a general perception that some women want a C-section simply because it’s easier. While this isn’t exactly true (giving birth is never easy), it does allow you to choose the date and control the duration of the process. According to recent surveys, more than a third of Thai births are done by C-section, many not out of medical necessity.

However, there are some cases when a planned C-section really is the best option. If a reputable doctor who you know and trust suggests it, you should listen. If you’re carrying multiple children, if you’re baby is exceptionally large or if there is any chance of your child coming out feet-first, it may be your best and safest option.

In some cases, a C-section is not only less risky, but absolutely essential. One of Expecting Expats’ very own contributors shared the story of how she bravely opted for the surgery when doctors were afraid that her child wouldn’t survive. Her decision saved the life of her unborn child.

If you do choose a C-section, one way to reduce some of the risk associated with it is to wait until close to your natural due date. Ideally, most babies should be born around 39 weeks. By the third trimester, most moms-to-be just want to get it over with. Hang in there just a little longer, if you can.

Why you should avoid a C-section

There’s no way around it: a C-section is a serious abdominal surgery, and like any other surgery it comes with significant risks and recovery time. A C-section puts a mother at risk for blood clots, complications from anesthesia and an emergency hysterectomy. The procedure usually requires a longer hospital stay, often around five days.

Financially, a C-section will invariably end up costing more, which may be why less ethical doctors are staunch advocates. At Samitivej Hospital, a C-section will set you back at least THB68,700—almost THB24,000 more than a natural birth.

A C-section also carries risks for the baby. Infants born from voluntary C-sections tend to have higher rates of respiratory problems and mortality rates. That doesn’t mean that perfectly healthy babies can’t be born from a C-section, but it does mean it’s a decision you should think about carefully.

Photo Credit: Philippe Put via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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