Part Two of Interview with Harvard Doctor – C-Section Focus

Last week, I wrote about a product from Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH, a radiation oncologist and mother of four who launched a company called Best Friends for Life (or BFFL) (which included a discount code for her amazing New Delivery Bag, so be sure to check the post if you haven’t yet!)

Below, I’m posting part two of our interview where she answered my questions about birthing, C-sections, hormones and mommy-pooches (i.e. the ever-present-refuses-to-leave belly fat).  She has really intellectual and thought-provoking views on these topics, definitely worth reading!

Q: Do you feel C-sections are being “overused” and that women are not cautious enough before undergoing this procedure ?

I will never judge another physicians decision about whether a woman “needs” a c-section or simply wants one for convenience and control issues.  The national average is 30% which is about a third of all births.  A c-section is major surgery and not without risks such as infection, bleeding, and even other serious complications.  When I hear women say that they want a c-section so they don’t ruin themselves “down there,” I cringe.  That just doesn’t seem right to me.

Q: How can someone best avoid a C-Section if they want vaginal birth? What might they not know?

 If you want to avoid an unnecessary c-section, you should discuss a birth plan with your OB and ask for the c-section average in his/her practice. If the c-section rate is over 50% and you don’t want one unnecessarily, interview another doctor.   Try to avoid scheduling an induction—sometimes the warning that the baby is “huge” doesn’t end up being the case.  Consider hiring a doula to coach you through labor; epidurals do tend to slow labor, so if you’re game, try natural—you get it over with faster and you usually recover faster.  I always tell people not to think that a c-section means no pain—you’ll end up with a scar and 6 weeks recovery, at least.

Q: How to best get rid of the post-birth “shelf” (the ‘lump’ of fat/swelling, etc. we all get in lower abdomen).  Is there something specific to do immediately? What about months later?

I called it the “pooch,” and the sooner you lose it after delivery, the better.  If you’re reading this now, and you’re still pregnant, try to limit your weight gain.  Most physicians recommend keeping it at about 30 pounds.

The best strategy after giving birth involves a healthy diet, lots of walking and try to get it off as fast as possible.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to lose the weight.

The other thing to remember is that most people aren’t looking at your “pooch” after you give birth, just get out of maternity clothes and try to emphasize your great arms (from carrying baby) and your beautiful décolletage.


Q: I see you are a radiation oncologist, and one topic many moms are concerned with a bit after baby is contraceptives – do I use hormones, non-hormones, etc. What’s your view on hormone-based contraceptives and links to cancer? 

Hormones are a cause for concern.  When considering birth control pills or hormone methods, make sure to discuss your family history of breast or ovarian cancer with your OB.  Your partner will be willing to try other methods if it’s risky for your health.


Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Becoming pregnant and then a mother will be the most important and intimate “second job” that you will ever take on.  If you have a career, don’t feel like you need to make a rash decision whether to continue after you have your baby.  Take your time and try to keep all options open. If you have financial restrictions, think of creative ways to keep your job and see your baby as much as possible.  Never close any doors in a hurry, you never know when you will need to work outside the home, and there should be no guilt or pressure either way.

Remember to take care of your own health, in addition to your new baby.  Get as much sleep, exercise and eat as healthy as possible.  Work on your relationship with your baby’s father/your partner.  It’s important to have someone there to raise that baby by your side and to help you in all ways.  Lastly and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all learn from our mistakes.  It’s recovering that matters.