Can You Request a C-Section?

Cesarean Birth with Parents Holding Baby
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There is a lot of discussion about the birth of a baby via elective cesarean (EC). Elective, in this case, means that there is not a medical reason for the mother or the baby or labor that would require a cesarean birth. Given that a C-section has risks for both the mother and baby, it is something that requires a conversation.

As a patient, you are entitled to request a C-section, though it may not be approved if your doctor is unable to deem the surgery as medically necessary. In 2015, an estimated 32% of all births in the United States were performed by C-section, and around 2.5% of those deliveries were elective cesareans by maternal request.

They may want to talk to you in detail about why you want to have elective surgery to give birth and try to find a way to ease your concerns or fears.

This is a chance to talk with your provider about why you want a cesarean and for the provider to explain why that is or is not a good idea.

A part of that discussion will be how many children you plan to have altogether. Then together, you will come up with a plan for the delivery.

Why Some Consider It

Some women believe that a cesarean birth would be easier or safer for them or their babies compared to a vaginal birth.

There are also women who suffer from tocophobia, the fear of childbirth. While many women may have a healthy respect for labor and are concerned or worried about it, there are also many women who have a deep-seated fear. There are also women who may wish to choose an elective C-section for convenience, or who do not wish to give birth vaginally.

In some cases, previous or current psychological issues and even past traumatic events such as sexual abuse were sufficient enough indicators for a doctor to perform a medically necessary C-section.

Ethics of Elective C-Sections

The topic of elective cesareans is a complicated one, and many researchers will say it is based on gross misinformation. Other researchers have indicated that an elective cesarean should be a woman's choice, and that doctors should be obligated to provide their patients with appropriate information and education regarding the procedure.

If your practitioner agrees to perform an elective C-section, it should not be performed until you are past 39 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the risk of preterm delivery of your baby. However, some studies have indicated that 37 or 38 weeks poses little to no harm for the mother or baby.

It is also important to note that your insurance company may not cover elective C-section for no medical reason because of the added risks of complications to you, your baby, and future pregnancies. Be sure to discuss this with your insurance provider.

8 Sources
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Additional Reading

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.