The Pros and Cons of Elective Cesarean Birth

One study showed that women who had cesarean deliveries were almost twice as likely to be rehospitalized than women who had vaginal deliveries.

Studies have shown elective cesarean won't prevent pelvic-floor dysfunction and accompanying laxity in vaginal muscles and future urinary incontinence.

There's evidence that cesarean birth may also lead to significant problems immediately after delivery and beyond. While it may seem that a baby lifted from the uterus would be nearly perfect, having suffered few consequences of the treacherous trip through the birth canal, such babies actually experience lower Apgar scores, accidental wounds, more respiratory distress and a higher rate of breastfeeding difficulties, colic and overall fussiness in the postpartum period. Mothers may experience increased risk of prematurity in a subsequent birth.

A European study demonstrated that baby's immune response may also be affected by surgical delivery. Compared with babies delivered vaginally, those born by cesarean section were four times as likely to suffer diarrhea and sensitization to food allergens such as cow's milk. It has been suggested that cesarean section alters or delays normal bacterial growth in the gut, which in turn impacts development of the immune system.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Opinion on Elective Cesarean
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers elective cesarean an ethical dilemma and neither condemns nor supports the practice. ACOG states that the ultimate decision should hinge upon the patient's concerns and the physician's understanding of the procedure's risks and benefits. In Valerie's situation, if the obstetrician believes that cesarean holds minimal risks for her and her baby, he may agree to perform the surgery. If, however, the doctor feels that a vaginal birth would be in her best interest and cannot persuade her, he is ethically bound to refer her to another health-care provider. It's almost always possible to find a physician who will perform cesarean on demand.

Some care providers fear the litigation associated with vaginal birth in a woman who has previously asked about elective cesarean. In addition, a provider's compensation for cesarean can be 10 times greater than the compensation for vaginal birth.

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