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Traditional birth is possible after C-section

POSTED: May 10, 2009 9:51 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Sarahlyn Cornett and her daughters Naomi, 2, and Grace-Blythe, 3, right. Cornett had to give birth to Grace-Blythe through an emergency cesarean section, but was able to give birth to Naomi traditionally. More doctors are making women aware that subsequent births don't necessarily have to be C-sections.

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As children celebrated their mothers Sunday, some moms may have reflected on the day they first gave birth and their lives were forever changed.

Some women labored for hours before they heard the cries of their first-born child. Other moms scheduled a cesarean section in which a doctor made an incision in the uterus to pull the baby from the womb.

Still other mothers may have resorted to a cesarean section to save the child if complications arose during delivery.

Until the 1980s, it was the consensus in the medical field that once a women had a child by way of cesarean section, she must always give birth by C-section to keep her uterus from rupturing. But Dr. Clayton Cox, chief obstetrician at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said women have another option.

Cox said vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC, has been practiced in the United States since the late 1970s or early 1980s. He said once doctors realized women who had had C-sections could deliver a child traditionally, insurance companies latched onto the idea in the 1980s. Insurance companies adopted policies that encouraged women to have a traditional birth after cesarean section.

Cox said with a traditional birth, insurance companies benefit because women typically stay in the hospital only 24 hours as opposed to several days if they’ve had a C-section.

There are also several pluses for women who have traditional births after cesareans. They don’t have to have abdominal surgery, a longer hospital stay and a painful recovery. And according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who have traditional births have less risk of an infection, lose less blood and have less of a need for blood transfusions.

Sarahlyn Cornett, a Hoschton resident and mother of two, was a patient of Cox. She had her first daughter three years ago by cesarean section, but had her second daughter just a year later through traditional birth. She said under the guidance of Cox, traditional birth was best for her.

Cornett’s first daughter was disoriented in the womb and she could not deliver her feet first. So she had an emergency C-section to deliver the baby.

“It was kind of one of those things that was not really planned, but it happened, so that’s why I had a C-section the first time,” she said. “It wasn’t a choice ... but we knew it was a possibility.”

Cornett said she had planned to deliver her first child traditionally, but she was just thankful the baby was healthy and cesarean section was successful. She said she knew traditional birth was an option for her and was glad she had the chance to do so. Cornett said for the birth of her second child, she was glad to skip the surgery, pain and long hospital stay that comes with a C-section.

However, there are some risks to giving birth traditionally after having had a cesarean, Cox said. He said he reviews the pros and cons of both methods with each patient as they plan their child’s birth.

Risks of a traditional birth after a cesarean include uterine rupture, which could endanger the health of the baby or mother. Cox said there’s only a 1 to 4 percent chance of uterine rupture for women who attempt a traditional birth after a cesarean.

Of women who try traditional birth after cesarean, 60-80 percent succeed, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Others may have to resort to a cesarean section.

Cox said he encourages some of his patients who have had C-sections but are capable of delivering traditionally to do so. But all women’s bodies are different, he said, and every woman should discuss the options with their own doctor to determine what is best for them and their baby.

Cornett said she’s glad that with the expert advice of doctors, women have the option to choose how they want to deliver for themselves.

“I think it is just great that it gives you another option, that you have a choice,” she said. “Especially since it is your body and you’re the one who has to live with the side effects or the secondary effects of what happens.”



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