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Although it used to be the delivery of last resort, Caesarean sections (C-section) are now becoming all the rage. Almost one in three pregnant women underwent a C-section in 2006, while only one in five had the procedure a decade earlier. Supporters think the surgery removes the rare but terrifying complications of vaginal delivery that can result in a baby’s injury or even death. Those who would like the use of C-sections to be limited claim the lengthy recuperation and increased risk for uterine rupture can lead to other problems during future pregnancies.

In the past, it was believed that after a C-section, the next child should be delivered vaginally. Several studies, however, have shown a vaginal birth after C-section raises the risk of uterine rupture. This switch is believed to be a driving force behind the increase in surgeries. Some believe these studies have gone too far after recent research shows that out of 13,000 women who attempted vaginal birth after C-sections, the risk of uterine rupture was less than one percent. Another cause for the spike in C-sections is the rising mal-practice premiums facing obstetricians, a figure that can increase drastically if a doctor is sued for something going wrong during labor. Without labor, no lawsuit can be made and parents rarely sue over C-sections.

C-sections are more efficient for doctors. They allow doctors to plan their schedules more efficiently, rather than waiting for a vaginal delivery. It is a lot easier for them to take a baby out through an incision, as opposed to maneuvering him or her through a narrow opening. Not only do C-sections remove the fear of pain from natural childbirth, women are also finding C-sections to be an efficient way to manage time and prevent them from attending natural-childbirth classes. Some celebrity mothers plan a C-section, for non-medical reasons, four weeks before the baby’s due date to minimize saggy loose skin and stretch marks. This can lead to the babies having breathing complications due to underdeveloped lungs

There are still dangers when undergoing a C-section. For example, the surgery involves a longer stay in the hospital and weeks of recuperation. A survey of almost 1,600 new mothers, found more than three-quarters of the patients receiving C-sections felt abdominal pain over the next two months and one in five had discomfort after six months. C-sections also increase the likelihood of placenta previa during future pregnancies. Placenta previa is a condition that can cut off the supply of oxygen to the baby during labor. The surgery also can increase the risk of death for a mother because of blood clots, complications with anesthesia and infections.

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