C-Section and a baby

How Do I Know if a C-Section is Right for Me?

You may have planned for a vaginal birth, but something changed. Your baby is in the breech position or unexpected problems started during labor, and your doctor tells you that you need a cesarean section (C-section). How should you prepare? How do you know if you’re making the right choice?

We have put together this outline highlighting some of the benefits and risks of C-sections to help you make an informed decision if your doctor asks you to consider having one. It will also help you advocate for yourself and your baby.

C-Sections: When You Should Consider One

Mom and a Newborn Baby

If you search online, you’ll find plenty of advice telling you that vaginal births are safer than C-sections for women and babies. But C-sections may be& vital or even life-saving in certain cases, and it’s important to know about those possibilities.

A C-section may be the safest choice for you and your baby if:

  • Your baby is sideways
  • The placenta is covering the cervix
  • The baby’s heart rate is not normal
  • A vaginal delivery could be unsafe for either of you

C-Sections: When It Might Not Be the Best Option

Mother in Surgery Room

Women have gone through pregnancy, labor, and delivery for thousands of years – safely, in most cases. While C-sections are safer for mothers and babies in certain high-risk situations, most women will be safer with a vaginal birth.

Even when they’re necessary, C-sections carry the same risks as any major surgery, including infection, injury, and severe bleeding. Recovery after a C-section is long and may be more difficult than with a vaginal birth. C-sections can also cause risks and complications in future pregnancies.

You can push back if your doctor recommends a C-section for any of these reasons:

  • Your doctor believes the baby will be large
  • Labor is slow but you and your baby are doing well
  • Progress has stopped but there are no concerns with the health of you or your child

Advocating for Yourself

Pregnant Woman in Her Doctor Appointment

Talk to your doctor, your birth team, and your family and let them know that you only want a C-section if it is necessary for medical reasons. If a C-section is suggested for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get the answers you need to make the right choice.

Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • What are the benefits of a C-section in my situation?
  • Could there be any problems or risks if I choose to continue with a vaginal birth?
  • What are my chances for severe risks?
  • Are the risks the same if I had a C-section?
  • How likely am I to get injured or sick during a C-section?

The Big Takeaway

Pregnant Woman and Her Doctor

Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something that makes you uncomfortable, especially having a potentially risky surgery. Know your options, do your research in advance, and be clear about what you want.

When making such a personal decision, it’s important that you can communicate with your doctor and you feel like you’re both on the same team. Our doctor finder tool can help you find an OB/GYN who speaks your preferred language and is close to home or work. We want you to feel comfortable with your doctor and be confident that you’re making the right decisions together.

To learn more about the pros and cons of C-sections, as well as some of the realities of the surgery, visit MyBirthMatters. This helpful site was put together by the California Maternal Quality Care Collective, an organization dedicated to improving health care outcomes for mothers and infants.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Baby Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding: A Lifetime of Benefits

Breastmilk is the first food nature intended humans to consume because it contains the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat babies need to thrive in the first months of their lives. It also contains vital antibodies, so they can fight off any viruses and bacteria. An added bonus – the benefits of breastmilk continue well into adulthood.

When babies are breastfed exclusively for at least six months:

  • They’re less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, allergies, and respiratory illnesses.
  • It reduces their risk of developing chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, childhood and adult obesity, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
  • It lowers their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by 50%.
  • It lowers their risk of childhood cancers like leukemia, and breast cancer as they age.

Breastfeeding is also incredibly beneficial in the short- and long-term for mothers. When women breastfeed:

  • It lowers their risk of type 2 diabetes, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Their chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, endometriosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are reduced.
  • On average, they get 45 more minutes of sleep.
  • It helps them return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster by burning an extra 400 calories per day.
Mother in Chair Breastfeeding Baby

The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Breastfeeding

  • Do reach out for assistance before your baby is born —attending a breastfeeding class is always a good place to start learning the ropes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help — the earlier you let others know you’re struggling, the better equipped you’ll be to overcome any challenges.
  • Don’t give up on the hardest day — breastfeeding takes work, and patience is key. Practice makes perfect!
  • Do find a support system — breastfeeding support groups can be a great way for you to meet other mothers that are also breastfeeding and provides a safe space to talk about what you’re experiencing.
  • Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t come easy — breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as most people expect. Especially if you’re a new mom, there may be a steep learning curve for both yourself and your baby.
  • Do seek support from a lactation consultant — there may be issues you may not be aware of. For example, a tongue tie is a common issue for babies that can’t maintain a deep latch. An experienced lactation consultant can recognize the problem and recommend solutions.

If you are breast or chestfeeding, you may be anxious about having enough milk for your baby. This is a common concern for new mothers. The California WIC Program and CDPH have put together an easy-to-use resource that addresses a lot of the questions parents may have.

You may also be worried about returning to work and how that can affect your supply. Low- wage workers receive less lactation support than those with higher incomes. A new brief provides information on ways the California Paid Leave policy and additional lactation accommodation laws can support low-wage workers in their breast and chestfeeding goals.

Woman and Doctor Talking

Finding the Right Resources

You’re not in this alone. There are a variety of community resources for breastfeeding support such as California’s Black Infant Health (BIH) Program. And if you are returning to work, plan and get information about nursing support after returning to the workforce. You can also speak to your supervisor about lactation accommodations to make the transition easier.

If you have a friend or family member that is breastfeeding or considering it, you can lend a hand by supporting their efforts. Little things like providing a meal, running an errand or providing a short break can be a big help to new parents.

AltaMed offers a variety of services, from lactation consultants and educators to individual support, at Boyle Heights, El Monte, Goodrich, Orange, Santa Ana, and Children's Hospital LA sites. Call (888) 499-9303 for more information and to make an appointment today.

Prenatal Care

Prenatal Care is Good for Moms and for Babies

Even in this modern day and age, the ability to grow a little human being inside you is still magical.

Whether you’re having your first baby or your fourth, getting care early can help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Start Before You’re Even Pregnant!

Couple in bed looking at each other

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, ask your doctor about a preconception visit. The preconception visit focuses on your health history and habits, with the goal of giving you personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations so you have the best chance for an easy, carefree pregnancy.

At the preconception visit, you should tell your doctor about any prescription drugs or herbal remedies you’re taking. If you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend certain foods and vitamins and getting your condition under control before you start trying to have a baby.

Before you even see a doctor, here are a few good health tips to follow:

  • Most women should start taking a folic acid supplement at least one month before you start trying to get pregnant. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects of the brain stem or spinal cord.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • With your doctor’s approval, get regular exercise.
  • Excessive caffeine and consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and use of illegal substances can hurt your chances of conception and are harmful to the baby during pregnancy.
  • Avoid exposure to substances like lead and radiation.

Once You’re Pregnant

Pregnant Woman Undergoing an Ultrasound

Even if you’re not sure you’re pregnant, visit your doctor. Prenatal care can drastically reduce your risk of complications, which is why it’s important to see your doctor on a regular basis.

Prenatal visits usually include a physical exam, weight checks, and having your urine checked. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, your doctor may also check your blood and perform imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams, to check on your baby’s health.

Prenatal visits are your time to ask questions about your pregnancy. Make notes as you think of them and bring them in – no question is too small, especially when it comes to the health of you and your baby.

AltaMed is Here for You!

Prenatal Class

AltaMed offers moms-to-be services that support their physical and mental wellbeing. Your doctor can tell you which services are appropriate for you.

  • Regular and frequent checkups, the whole time you’re pregnant
  • Classes and one-on-one information about pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding
  • How to apply for financial help and resources such as Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and WIC
  • Help with cutting down or quitting smoking, drinking, or using drugs
  • Counseling on problems or family issues you may have
  • Referral to community agencies that can provide additional help and services

From even before you get pregnant, all through your pregnancy, delivery, and after, AltaMed is dedicated to helping your baby grow up, healthy and strong. We want to be your first stop, and your first choice, for your entire family.

How Do I Know if a C-Section is Right for Me?