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What are the Pros and Cons of a Scheduled C-Section?

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  • Written By: Matt Brady
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Scheduled C-sections, depending on the context and one’s personal opinion, can be either highly beneficial or unnecessarily risky. They are often beneficial and potentially life-saving if a woman's pregnancy is hampered by certain health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease, and complications resulting from previous C-sections. A scheduled C-section may also help avoid labor complications due to various factors within the womb, such as a fetus in a feet-down, or breech, position; multiple fetuses; or a large baby. Many women also opt for scheduled C-sections when they don't necessarily need them, for the luxury of being able to know well in advance—even down to the hour—when the child will be delivered, as well as for the option of avoiding a vaginal delivery.

The major downside to a scheduled C-section, medically mandated or otherwise, is that a C-section often increases the risk of labor complications in subsequent pregnancies. One major possible complication that often arises is that a scheduled C-section can make it more difficult, sometimes impossible, for a woman to try for a vaginal delivery with the next child. It also comes with the risk of developing an infection, experiencing negative side effects from anesthesia, sustaining damage to internal organs, suffering from blood loss and clotting, and dealing with a longer and more arduous recovery after delivery.

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More women today opt for a scheduled C-section for non-medical reasons than ever before, a decision known as an elective cesarean. There’s been much controversy over whether that's a healthy trend. Some feel it's harmful for women to schedule C-sections if they don't medically need to—that it puts mother and child at risk of developing unnecessary complications. Others feel that C-sections are very safe and effective, and that there's nothing wrong with a woman's choice to control when and how she'll deliver her child.

There's much less wiggle room when arguing over whether a scheduled C-section is the right choice for women with preexisting health complications. A woman with diabetes, for example, is at high risk of developing preeclampsia during labor, a pregnancy-induced condition marked by alarmingly high blood pressure levels. Preeclampsia can harm both mother and child, and can even be fatal. Other complications, such as a weak heart or a major disability such as a debilitating back problem, can also make vaginal delivery highly dangerous. In such situations, there's little question that a scheduled C-section is the safest route to go, providing mother and child with the best chance of a safe delivery.

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