I read today about the recent re-hospitalization for Tori Spelling after her fourth c-section (and her second within one year).
(This post isn't a finger pointed at Tori, by the way. I think it is awesome that she has a growing family and I have no idea how or why she has had four c-sections, but they are all her business and not mine. This post is about the safety of VBAC and the lies we have been sold about the safety of c-section.)
I think we hear a lot about the risk of VBAC. A LOT. And it is true, there are more risks to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) than in a straightforward vaginal birth. While fear runs high for VBAC, we hear very little about the risks of repeat cesarean section.
These risks can't and shouldn't be ignored.
There are many good reasons to have a c-section, even a scheduled c-section. But we need to be honest about this procedure. It is a surgery. It is a major surgery. Even the Mayo Clinic (and numerous other physicians) recommend that a mother not have more than three c-sections because of the increased risk to the mother.
Roger Harms, MD states on the Mayo Clinic site that these are serious risks with numerous c-sections:
- "Weakened uterine wall. Each uterine incision leaves a weak spot in the uterine wall. This might interfere with future pregnancies.
- Problems with the placenta. The more C-sections you've had, the greater the risk of developing problems with the placenta — such as when the placenta implants too deeply and firmly to the uterine wall (placenta accreta) or when the placenta partially or completely covers the opening of the cervix (placenta previa).
- Bladder injuries. Bladder injuries, which are possible but uncommon with initial C-sections, are more likely with repeat C-sections. The increased risk is likely due to scar-like tissue that developed after a previous C-section, binding the bladder to the uterus.
- Heavy bleeding. Heavy bleeding is possible after any C-section. The risk of excessive bleeding increases with the number of repeat C-sections. The risk of needing a hysterectomy — removal of the uterus — to control life-threatening bleeding also increases with the number of repeat C-sections."
"The risks of placenta accreta, cystotomy, bowel injury, ureteral injury, and ileus, the need for postoperative ventilation, intensive care unit admission, hysterectomy, and blood transfusion requiring 4 or more units, and the duration of operative time and hospital stay significantly increased with increasing number of cesarean deliveries."Are there risks to VBAC? Yes. Are they as big as the risks of multiple c-sections? That is a VERY good question and one probably not discussed with the vast majority of c-section mothers.
WHY AREN'T WE TALKING ABOUT THE RISKS OF MULTIPLE CESAREAN? WHY?
|Picture provided by Abby Robinson, a VBA3C mom and taken at an Improve Birth rally in Texas.|
That other option is VBAC and it is VERY real and very safe.
I hurt for Tori and her family and I wish her a speedy and total recovery and joy in all her births and babies. Her hospitalization from complications after her cesarean is sad and tragic and it shows us that even celebrities with the best doctors and the nicest hospitals cannot escape the very real dangers of modern obstetrics and the c-section epidemic.
If you would like to read a comprehensive review of the research on vaginal birth after multiple c-sections I highly suggest you read an ENTIRE post by the talented Abby Robinson, a VBA3C mama.