I'll admit that I'm a bit picky about words, it is after all, what I do with my days. One word gets really misused in the context of birth all the time - emergency. I am not sure if it's a product of too much reality TV, a sense of fear or just an honest mistake, but emergency means it's rare and emergent, not unplanned.
So I'll give you a run down of how to use the word correctly in birth, particularly as it applies to cesarean section:
- Scheduled Cesarean: This c-section is planned before labor takes place. It can include medical reasons or elective c-sections.
- Unplanned Cesarean: This cesarean birth usually happens in the course of labor (spontaneous or induced). Something non-emergent happens, mom and baby are fine, it's just decided that a c-section is the best course of action to prevent problems.
- Emergency Cesarean: This can happen before or after labor has started. It usually means that your baby is born within minutes, think a placental abruption, a cord prolapse, etc., not that you're having a long labor, not that you aren't dilating fast enough. There is no time to wait to do an epidural, you get general anesthesia; there is no waiting for your doctor to arrive, you get the doctor on call; and there is no take your time to talk about your options, you're being wheeled into the OR.
So, if you hear someone use the word emergency in a birth story, ask yourself to listen to what they are saying about their birth. Is the word being used correctly? Or is it used because of a sense of panic and fear that the parents felt?
While you might argue that it's just semantics, it does matter. We tend to throw around words that create a sense of fear and panic, when none is really needed. This leads us to believe that emergencies happen every minute in pregnancy and birth, which is simply not true. Yes, emergencies happen, just not as often as you might be lead to believe due to the word choice. Let's save the word emergency for when it truly is an emergency.
- Emergency Childbirth
- Why would I need a scheduled c-section?
- What happens before a scheduled c-section?
- When can I schedule a planned c-section?
- Why would I need an unplanned c-section?
- What will I feel during a cesarean section?
- 5 Concerns About Labor
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