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Choosing a C-Section

More moms are deciding to have C-sections. In fact, preplanned cesareans without a medical cause have increased about 30 percent in the past few years, according to one study. Among the reasons: the convenience of scheduling childbirth and avoiding the pain of labor. Some women also fear they'll eventually develop urinary incontinence after a vaginal birth, though new research points to genetics as the real culprit.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists allows women to make the choice as long as they're fully aware of the risks, such as the chance of surgical complications and a longer and more painful recovery. Women who plan to have more than two kids should avoid them, say the National Institutes of Health, since the scar tissue left over from a cesarean makes future surgeries less safe.

"While I won't refuse to do one, I do like to know what's behind the request, and I insist on having another doctor weigh in," says Jacques Moritz, M.D., director of the gynecology division at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. If you're thinking about scheduling a C-section, talk to your ob before you decide. Knowing that it's major surgery makes it a serious decision.

What about the baby? C-sections can cause breathing problems in infants in some cases. Here's why:

  • The lungs are the last organs to mature. If surgery is scheduled earlier than your due date and that date is off by a week, your baby may need to be kept in the NICU until they develop fully.
  • No trip through the birth canal means less fluid will be squeezed out of the lungs, which can make breathing harder for those first days.