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C-section rate rising in US, but not always best choice, Consumer Reports says

May 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The number of cesarean is on the rise. Nearly 1 in 3 babies in the U.S. is born via C-section.

In the 1950s and 1960s, having a C-section was rare. Surgeons generally performed them only when a mother or baby's life was at risk.

"There are some situations in which performing a C-section is to be preferred, but that's major surgery. In most cases, the safest way, for mother and baby, is to deliver vaginally," said Dr. Marvin Lipman.

If a woman's first birth is a C-section, there's about a 90 percent chance subsequent births will also be C-sections.

"That doesn't have to happen. Many women who've had a C-section, especially with a low-transverse incision, are able to have a vaginal birth after a C-section. That's known as a VBAC," Lipman said.

However, a woman seeking a VBAC delivery can have trouble finding a doctor willing to try one.

"Some doctors don't have the necessary support from their hospital or their malpractice insurance won't cover the procedure," Lipman said. "If your doctor is willing to try a VBAC, make sure that he or she has all the necessary information from a previous C-section."

In addition to a rise in the number of C-sections, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of scheduled early deliveries.

Experts at Consumer Reports say in uncomplicated pregnancies, it's better for both mother and baby to let Mother Nature decide when a baby's ready to be born.


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