ANNOUNCER: When Larissa Thomson was pregnant with her son, she hoped for an uncomplicated birth. But soon after labor began, Larissa and her doctor realized that something was wrong.
LARISSA THOMSON: His heart rate started dropping pretty frequently and, by morning, Dr. LaJoie told me she thought it was a good idea to go ahead and have a cesarean section because my son was in distress.
ANNOUNCER: A cesarean section, or c-section, is a surgical procedure that allows a baby to be born through the mother's abdomen. Often used to assist women who have complicated pregnancies, c-sections are fairly routine surgeries and becoming increasingly common.
SUZANNE LaJOIE, MD: Probably about 25 to 30 percent of deliveries are done via cesarean section.
ANNOUNCER: In many cases, a woman knows in advance if a c-section will be necessary. But whether a c-section is planned or not, the procedure itself can be quite stressful.
LARISSA THOMSON: When I went in to have my cesarean section, I was shaking. I was very nervous, it was hard for me to just calm down and let go.
This stress may be caused in part by the additional risks associated with a c-section.
SUZANNE LaJOIE, MD: There are risks for the mom. There's more bleeding; there's more infection. And there are more blood clots or thromboembolism.
There can be risks to the fetus. The first thing we always try to avoid is an injury to the baby, which can be done because there are surgical instruments there. And then there's something else called transient tachypnea of the newborn, which is a scenario where the fluid in the lungs does not get reabsorbed, which happens during a vaginal birth.
ANNOUNCER: Additionally, recovery after a c-section can take as long as six weeks, making it difficult for a new mom to care for her baby.
SUZANNE LaJOIE, MD: It is a challenge, because she will be recovering from a major abdominal surgery and she's going to have a newborn to take care of, so she may need help just taking care of the baby, getting around, getting errands done.
ANNOUNCER: Knowing that there is always a chance that you will need to have a c-section and educating yourself about the surgery can also make this procedure a little less stressful.
LARISSA THOMSON: I think it's important for women to understand that having a cesarean section is a possibility, and it's not the worst thing in the world. Some women will probably handle it better than others, but I think, generally, you're going to be nervous and a little bit scared and that's okay.
ANNOUNCER: In the end, knowing that a cesarean section may be necessary to ensure your baby's health, may be all the confidence you need.