On-Demand Cesarean Section May Not Be a Safe Choice

Research shows that the risk of maternal death following cesarean section is five to seven times higher than vaginal birth. Complications during and after the surgery may include injury to the bladder, uterus and blood vessels, hemorrhage, anesthesia accidents, blood clots in the legs, pulmonary embolism, paralyzed bowel and infection.

Citing additional concerns about the risk of placenta previa, placenta accreta and uterine rupture during subsequent pregnancies, prominent obstetrician-gynecologists Ingrid Nygaard and Dwight Cruikshank stated, "Given the absence of rigorous scientific evidence, we believe that it is currently ill-advised to routinely give all prenatal patients the choice of their desired mode of delivery." The American College of Nurse-Midwives stated, "Regrettably, the opinion issued by the ACOG Committee on Ethics may lead to an increasing level of distrust between health care professionals and the women who seek our services. The purported benefits of cesarean section on demand are unproven and the known risks place the woman's life and reproductive future on the line. This is the message women must receive."

The baby also is at risk. With planned cesareans, some babies are inadvertently delivered prematurely. Studies show that babies born even slightly before they are ready may experience problems breathing and are five times more likely to be admitted to intermediate or intensive care. Premature babies also have more difficulty breastfeeding.

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