Can You Request a Cesarean?

I am very concerned about what my rights are as a patient with regard to requesting either a cesarean or an induction. I am 36 weeks pregnant and I'm having back pain. It hurts to walk and seems to be getting worse every day. My doctor made it very clear to me in the beginning that she will not perform a cesarean on demand. I understand her decision, but I am the patient, and I am paying for the birth of this child, and I feel like I should have some type of recourse. What do you advise?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

What a terrible situation to have to deal with in your pregnancy.

The only recourse that I believe you would have is to seek a second opinion, however I have several reservations about this. Another provider may not be as ethical and realize that more income can be derived from a quick cesarean. Also, your current provider knows you and your pregnancy and it would be hard to transfer care at this late date.

The physician is well within his or her rights to withhold intervention that he feels is unnecessary or potentially injurious. Cesareans present a much higher risk for maternal morbidity and mortality than does a vaginal birth.

It would be preferable for you and your provider to try to discover the reason for the extreme pain. Perhaps a referral to an orthopedic doctor or a physical therapist is in order.

I understand that many complaints about providers are based in fact but, often, just a bit of compassion, sympathy and communication would resolve many issues.

Every cesarean that is done, must go before a hospital review board and the risks must be justified according to standard medical practice in your community. Your physician could well be brought before a committee if he performed what most consider an unnecessary cesarean.

I know this doesn't help you and your concerns but, in the end, he or she is the one who has to answer for his or her medical decisions and conduct.

I hope you get through this and come to some peace about it. If there is a local chapter of a cesarean support group in your area, it might be a good idea to contact them.

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