C-Sections By Choice
"This time is going to be different," Jennifer Berman told herself when she found out she was pregnant for the second time.
Her first labor, three years earlier, had been long (18 hours) and frightening, because her baby's head and shoulders got stuck in the birth cana. Max — born at 9 pounds, 8 ounces — suffered no lasting harm, but the monitoring probes inserted during labor gave Berman an infection that took more than a week to clear up. She also suffered from months of incontinence. "It was all way out of control," says Berman, a urologist at UCLA Medical Center.
So for her second baby, she decided to have a c-section. Isabelle arrived by appointment weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Almost one in three babies in the U.S. come into the world by c-section, an all-time high, and rates keep rising. Now a growing number of women, like Berman, are choosing the option even when it's not medically necessary.
Some doctors are in favor of giving women the choice, especially if they may be at particular risk of urinary or other complications. "While vaginal birth is a natural event, in essence what you're doing is rolling a bowling ball through the vagina," says urogynecologist Peter Sand, M.D., of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago. Many obstetricians, however, are reluctant to substitute surgery for vaginal birth.
The choice is controversial and has sparked a public debate. Recently, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology officially told its members that it's ethical to perform an elective cesarean.