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Lisa Ling: Why I Regret Having a Scheduled C-Section with My Second Daughter

09/21/2016 at 03:30 PM ET

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Lisa Ling/Instagram

Lisa Ling looks back at her second pregnancy with one regret: her elective C-section.

In her digital series, This is Birth, Ling, 43, examines the “high-tech, high-cost, high-stakes ways” people choose to give birth in the United States — and includes her own pregnancy stories along the way.

The first part of the series features cesarean sections, and Ling opens up about her own experience with two c-sections, one non-elective and the other elective.

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

During her last ultrasound while pregnant with her firstborn, Ling learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her baby’s neck, and she and husband Dr. Paul Song were told a c-section was needed to deliver their daughter Jett, now 3.

“I can’t say I was disappointed by the news,” she writes. “My life was so hectic that the idea of scheduling my delivery was actually kind of nice … I’m admittedly a type-A personality who has always been used to being in control of my life. Before I became pregnant with Jett I had suffered two miscarriages. After each one I thought, ‘What did I do wrong? How did I cause this?’ It was demoralizing.”


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Jett’s birth went according to plan and Ling writes that her baby girl “completely changed and brought new meaning to our lives.” But for the journalist, balancing work and a growing family encouraged her to opt for a scheduled c-section when she found out she was expecting her second daughter, Ray.

This time, however, things did not go as planned.

“Unlike my first c-section incision, this one didn’t seem to be healing as quickly,” she writes about her June delivery. “In fact, I was experiencing a lot more pain than I did with my first and at one point, fluid began leaking from the incision. I had developed an extremely painful infection and it was awful … My husband, who is a doctor himself, suspects that I may have picked up the infection in the hospital.”

Have a "Ray" kinda day!

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Ling concludes that she wishes she had known more about the potential health risks involved in c-sections, and encourages other expecting mothers to do their research.

“In all honesty, I regret it,” she writes. “I’m grateful that my baby’s OK, and that I’m OK now, but it was not easy.”

— Blake Bakkila

FILED UNDER: Lisa Ling , News , Parenting

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Showing 38 comments

wil on

The doctor tried to push that scheduled c-section crap on me, telling me my baby was already very large (2.5 weeks out from due date) and scaring me with stories of what could go wrong if I tried to deliver vaginally (funny how she never emphasized anything about the risks of c-section, which is a major abdominal surgery with plenty of its own risks)
Three days later (and 17 days early) my baby arrived on his own and was not at all as big as they had guesstimated. It was a completely uncomplicated vaginal birth.

Leigh on

So she only regrets the second one because she got an infection? There can be complications with vaginal births as well. Would she not have regretted it if it had gone smoothly like the first one? This is dumb…

JN on

She should have thought to research the first time around. Cord loops around the baby’s neck are very common and are not considered a reason to deliver by cesarean unless there is evidence of significant compression during labor, which I gather did not happen because she learned it “during her last ultrasound while pregnant with her firstborn”. If she hadn’t accepted a questionable reason for the first cesarean she would have had better than 95% odds of delivering her second child vaginally.

Miranda on

Those additional years don’t make it any easier either. I was 27 when I had the first c-section and 35 for the second. The second birth recovery was much more difficult and I was tired and weak for almost a year, no bouncing back this time. The second birth was a scheduled c-section but necessary because of my anatomy. It is major surgery, huge risk of infection and the older you are, the worse it gets.

Dawn on

Stop chastising her for sharing her experience. Goodness! Many women go with the advice of their doctors, she’s no different! You trust these professionals to do the right thing by you and your baby–they’re the ones that went to medical school and deliver for a living. I find it refreshing that she’s willing to be open about her regrets and hopefully by sharing her story, she’ll inspire moms to question. The baby business is becoming quite a scary one here in the states, where you can schedule your induction according to vacations (both your own and doctor’s)

Britt on

I think when she says regrets she means she regrets not having more knowledge on her birth options. The article also didnt add that once a mother has a C-Section many hospitals require any future births to be by C-Section as well. My first child was by c-section and I was told any future babies would be delivered the same way. Of course thats not my first option but for my area I have no other choice. Like her thought I would want to be as educated about my upcoming surgery as possible and that responsibility falls on the doctors/nursing staff to make sure they cover all basis even the unlikely ones.

Jessy on

My first c section was scheduled because my baby was like 9.5 lbs. The second was like 7.8 lbs. Because of the good experiences I had with my first c-section and because of my age (was almost 44 at the time) I asked my doctor for a c-section for the second baby. Everything went well. I would do it again. 😉

Momof2 on

I had an emergency C with my first and chose to have a scheduled C with my second. Honestly, birth no matter how you look at it or the choices you do/don’t make don’t matter when the baby is here. It took us 18 years to have 2 children. I wouldn’t have cared if a stork actually brought the kids! You can’t dwell on something you can’t change.

lgrl on

Beautiful babies, regardless of how they got here.
Nice to have a doctor hubby, eh?

sally on

I too regret my second c-section!!! I caved into my doctor scaring me about the last incision opening! I mean I really wanted to try for a vbac (vaginal birth after c-section) but he just told me NO- that would be a big mistake. If the incision opens it could kill you and your baby! Sadly, instead of leaving his office and finding a good midwife or another gynecologist- I took the easy route and went ahead and made the schedule for my second c-section. I do regret that but I don’t regret my baby girl being born healthy! Sadly, he did a horrible job on sewing up my second incision. I ended up getting an infection, as well from the staples and almost needed him to go back in and clean it out. Thankfully it healed thru taking antibiotics. Scheduling it was nice but I often wonder what my daughters true birth date would of been!

sandy on

OMG, such beautiful girls! Really, as long as everything goes well and the baby is born healthy- thank god because that’s all that matters!! I agree with all the other mother’s posting. Yes, we can feel disappointment but in the end who cares??? When I held my baby I forgot about the delivery & started enjoying my sweet little prize for a job well done.

Annie on

Lisa me too! I developed an infection after my second incision! NOT fun- especially with a newborn and for me- a 2 1/2 year old as well. It took a lot to heal it but thank goodness we didn’t need to go back to the hospital and have it opened up or worse yet, blood poisoning!! It could of been so worse! You have your beautiful family- they are a blessing I am sure.

dawn on

i had 2 c sections and first one i did heal quickly 2 yrs almost to the day i had my second one i was up and moving right away and i was in alot of pain for weeks no infection but they usually cut you in the same spot so you have lots of nerves and scar tissue to contend with and this is why second c section is usually more painful and takes longer to heal. As long as my kids got her healthy and safely i would do it all over again.

linda on

C-Sections save lives. I’m so tired of women in the Western World who want to pretend they are living more authentic healthful lives blab on about natural childbirth. Childbirth was, and for many is, the most dangerous thing a woman ever faces. My family grandmothers in their poor, 3rd world countries would have done ANYTHING for a clean, sterile C-section. It’s such arrogance to sit around complaining about risks of minir scars or treatable infections when you and your baby are alive and healthy. Not to mention that Doctors get sued if they do a c-section, and then they get sued if they don’t. It’s maddening.

L on

This is very private matter… Why People wants the world judge her decision ?

Leila on

Ten years out from my c-sections, and I am more grateful than EVER that I did not go the vaginal route. Many many of my friends who had vaginal deliveries and tore so much, no longer enjoy sex with their spouses. They have much higher rates of incontinence problems as they get older. And that’s when things go well, and the baby is healthy. Childbirth has repercussions, it’s a hard thing for a body, and there’s no way to avoid some damage to your body. This article is pretty pathetic in that it doesn’t acknowledge the damage ANY delivery does to your body.

Willa on

Pretty baby .🌺 Lisa don’t beat yourself up on this one . If your a woman over 40 in Cali . And you have had a C- section your Dr. Will most likely recommend another C- section . It’s pretty much protocol . When I say “recommend” I’m really saying you almost don’t have a choice . Unless you stay home and give birth with midwives . You are a really blessed mama of two beautiful girls . Congratulations on your family . Your a strong role model for your daughters .✨

carolineourso on

I had a C-Section and it was fine for me. Recovery was a little tough for first few days, but they give you pain meds. It was necessary due to the anatomy of my body and size of the baby for me to have a section.. Of course there are risks with both types of birth. Women should have a doctor they trust and listen to their DOCTOR. I did not go to medical school, so I rely on my healthcare provider to tell me what is best. I do not rely on WEBMD. Not saying that is not a good website, but my doctor knows my health history and what’s best for me and my baby. This article concerns me that women who are not educated in the healthcare profession will do their own research and by-pass what their doctor is telling them to do. Just because one person decides to go public with a C-Section horror story does not mean they are all bad. Listen to your doctor an please don’t Google “C-Section. It will just freak you out.

Debbe on

What shocks me most is that it is elective. I had to have one because I could have died and my baby could have died because he would not have fit through my pelvic area, BUT, I don’t know why this is even an option for a woman to choose without a medical reason for mom or baby.

Guest on

I had a emergency c-section with my second and it was so painful afterwards because I labored for 14 hours. On my third child we tried to do a vbac. My uterus ruptured during delivery and they lost my baby’s heartbeat for 7 minutes while I was rushed to the OR and he was delivered. There is a less than 1% chance of this happening. Just saying vbacs aren’t always awesome either.

Babyds on

I really wish these ” celebrity” moms would lay off of sharing their birth complaints, vaccine preferences etc… What she didn’t say is that the risk of a VBAC includes total rupture of the uterus due to her previous scar. Quit complaining and be gracious that your doctor cared enough to give you the option of a safe delivery, had they not you would complain about your horrible vaginal delivery turned C-section delivery…GEESH!!!

Sue on

Lisa, please don’t look back with too much worry or regret, you made the best choice you could at the time, have two cutie-pie babes, and are feeling better–“just keep swimming”!!

mamaofthree on

My first baby was stuck on my pelvis and I had to have a c-section the first time. I attempted a VBAC with my second, but her heart rate dipped and I had to have a second c-section. It ended up that her heart rate dipped because we were both in distress-I had tears all over my uterus from labor with her when my first scar opened. I’m so grateful with how it ended up. While I know that you can have a successful VBAC sometimes, I wonder if it would have been worth the risk.

Donna on

I knew before I ever became pregnant I would have to have c-section delivery for personal body issues. I did not have computers in 1987 to google, and I thank God I didn’t as I would have been scared to death by the information out there. I was in my early thirties, had bleeding/cramping until 13 weeks along, and all I could think about was having my baby any way that did not increase the safety of birth. I had no issue having a c-section. I had an excellent doctor who went over all infomration with me, went to classes and was ready for it. My recovery was far easier, less painful and faster than I expected. Almost 4 years later I gave birth to my second child, and I never considered trying natural birth. I had the same bleeding/cramping issues until 13 weeks, they started again about 2/3’s the way along for a couple weeks. I was 35, and my recovery was no different than the first, if you take into consideration being more tired because I already had a almost 4 year old to care for, I was 4 years older,,,,,,haven’t read any posting on here that mention you obviously have more to do with a second baby. You can’t sleep when they do, you have a child to care for other than the newborn. My Doctor removed the scar tissue from the first when I had the second, so there was no reason for me to have further damage to my insides (nerves, etc.) I feel no regret, no feelings of not being a complete woman,,,,because I had c-sections. I think a lot of women feel guilty for some reason, and this makes them have regrets. Isn’t the entire process’s objective to have a healthy Mother and Baby in the end???? Did post partum play a part in any of these second c-section regrets??? There is so much to take into consideration each woman needs to work with her doctor and other professionals and make a decision for their situation,,,,the heck with what others “think” or “regret” or “advise”.

Joanne on

My first born was a non-elective C-Section after 37 hours of labor. My second was a planned c-section and I would never have gotten pregnant again without it. Everything went perfectly.

joan on

I had a c-section with my first who went breech. It was then that doctors were deciding about vbac. I had my 2nd child 3 years later and I had a vbac. I was able to get the epidural, and it was grand, until it ran out half way through my delivery. I have to say that I thought my c-section scar was going to bust – the pain was horrible. I was in pain for 2 hours, pushing during contractions, until I could get the doctor to do another epidural. the forceps used scratched my baby near her eye, and we are lucky that it missed her eye. She still has the scar. twenty one months later, I was in labor with my third child. another vbac, another epidural. the nurse broke my water and labor went quickly. I had pain with both procedures, but I dont know which one was better for my body. My husband, on the other hand, still has nightmares from the c-section and the epistiotomy.

guest on

Lisa Ling is a seemingly intelligent person and her husband is a doctor. She didn’t know the risks of a C-section? I find that hard to believe.

krtmom on

My first child was born by c-section and the next two were v-bacs. Much better healing time with a vaginal birth no doubt about it! My doctor never even considered another c-section since my first was breech but the other two were not. It is not once a c=section only a c-section unless there is a medical reason to do so.

red on

She only regrets it because she got an infection, her and her type A personality would have be a ok to schedule and have everything go according to plan, you can’t control nature and a C section is a major major surgery. Glad she’s fine and baby is fine.

Peachy on

Didn’t have an “elected” c-section and it probably was necessary, but 26 years later I still sometimes have problems with my incision. Wish I could go back and tell them not to strap me to a bed so my dilation wouldn’t progress.

Mel on

My second child also had the cord wrapped around his neck twice but I still had a vaginal birth. My third child actually had a knot in her umbilical cord and I still had a vaginal birth. Sometimes a c-section isn’t always the only option although many times it’s needed. Some doctors (not all) will recommend it due to the higher bill they can charge you. Not just OBGYN’s but some surgeons in general would rather cut instead of finding other options. I know this from personal experience and wish I looked into other options. We need to remember to do research and make sure our doctors make these decisions based on what’s best for our health instead of what’s more convenient for the doctor.

Jen on

The headline of this article should be ‘why I can’t appreciate that I have two beautiful, healthy children and instead am deciding to strike fear into moms everywhere’, with the article being her explaining that you have to be a part of the mommy wars in order to profit from them. If your babies are healthy and you are all alive, the doctor did their job. Stop beating yourself up about a decision you made a bunch of years ago, when given the facts you had at the time, it was the right decision.

Meghan on

I kinda feel like her doctor during her first pregnancy manipulated her. He took a woman who was still affected by her miscarriages, scared her about the umbilical cord, just so he could schedule surgery and make his day easier.

Douglass on

I had to have a hysterectomy. Had to sign papers that stated I understand I would be barren after the surgery. I was 31 years old! No chance of having a baby. Couldn’t adopt b/c it is was and still is too expensive. So I hope you understand if I don’t sympathize w/those of you who had a c- section and you ended up with a healthy baby.

Too Bad on

The only reason she regrets the second C-section is because it didn’t turn out perfectly. Any kind of birth can have complications afterwards and everything does not turn out as we plan. Just be thankful.

Rachel on

My 2nd planned C-section was so much easier than my first. Mine healed faster and less pain during recovery. Just because her experience went on way doesn’t mean everyone else’s 2nd planned c-section will be like hers. These celebrity opinions are so frustrating!

Maribel on

Women are naturally endowed d to deliver babies, no matter what doctors say by trying to scare us away from it. Most women deliver naturally with no complications and/or risks. C-sections are surgery procedures and they bring risks with it. They should only happen if there are serious complications. I had an unnecesary c-section thanks to an induction that should have never happened. The risk of uterine ruption, that is, any previous cuts opening etc is 1%, which is pretty much the same as any other complication in a natural birth. Doctors forcing women to have c-sections or scaring them into having one is, unfortunately, another form or sexual discrimination. I had my second baby vaginally and there were no complications whatsoever, and the recovery was a thousand times better, with no wounds or cuts anywhere. We need to stop the abuse.

Nadia on

My sister had a c section her first baby her doctor said she had to who knows to be honest.This time around she had a midwife and doula be her side and give birth natural out of her vagina.