As the number of Caesareans increased through the 1970s, in part because of rising malpractice suits, medical groups launched campaigns that reversed the trend. Many medical authorities viewed the procedures as unnecessarily expensive and risky, and advocates of "natural childbirth" saw them as turning a natural experience into a "medicalized" one.The right to choose! You decide! What would you rather have, an infection or incontinence? A uterine rupture (avoidable by not having a subsequent vaginal delivery) or a baby with brain damage (permanent and irreversible)?
But the number of Caesareans began to increase again in 1996, reaching an all-time high of 29.1 percent of all births in 2004. The trend was fueled by factors including doctors' concerns about the safety of attempting a vaginal delivery after a previous Caesarean, women's fear of the pain and physical trauma of traditional labor, and the convenience of being able to schedule deliveries.
The rapid increase triggered an intense debate and prompted the NIH to convene the panel to make the first new assessment of the procedures since 1980, when the focus was on preventing Caesareans....
The panel concluded that Caesareans increase the risk for some serious, potentially life-threatening complications, particularly devastating uterine ruptures during subsequent vaginal deliveries. For that reason, women planning large families should avoid them, the panel said. And the procedure should not be done before the 39th week of pregnancy unless the baby's lung development has been verified. But there was also evidence that the surgical deliveries reduced risks such as bleeding by the mother and possibly brain damage to the baby.
The evidence on other complications is mixed. The risk of infection, for example, appears to be lower after vaginal deliveries, and the risk of incontinence may be lower following Caesareans, the panel found.
And all these years people have been trying to guilt trip women into having "natural" births! Ha!