Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Elective Cesarean: Babies On Demand

C-Sections are on the rise and moms are getting blamed, but is it really the woman's fault?

The Labor Room: Who's Really Pushing? continued...

"There was this notion out there for awhile that doctors were doing C-sections for their own convenience ... for financial reasons, for social reasons ... and so the push was on to lower the rates," says Porto.

Even though the general birthing rule had long been "once a cesarean, always a cesarean", by the 1980s the drive to push rates down was so great that doctors developed the VBAC -- vaginal birth after cesarean. It soon became the default procedure for the next birth after every cesarean delivery.

Unfortunately, studies began to show that women undergoing VBACs had the highest rate of complications, including uterine rupture, hemorrhaging, and sometimes the need for a total hysterectomy. Moreover, babies didn't do so well either, frequently landing in neonatal intensive care immediately after birth.

It wasn't long before hospitals and insurance companies began refusing to back a doctor doing a VBAC. The end result: The idea of performing a cesarean delivery went from a medical decision to a legal one -- and the VBAC died.

"The medical-legal climate on labor floors became such that many doctors no longer went out of their way to convince a woman to have a vaginal delivery, particularly if she had a C-section in the past," says Bernstein.

The "Listening to Mothers" survey seems to second this opinion, finding that "9% of mothers reported experiencing pressure to have a cesarean -- far outweighing the number of mothers who voluntarily chose this procedure."

Where Do We Go From Here

Doctors say that while advances in C-section delivery have increased its safety profile considerably, risks still remain higher than for a vaginal delivery, and rise still higher with every C-section a woman has.

"By the time a woman gets to her third cesarean, she's at serious risk for life-changing and even life-threatening complications," says Bernstein.

In the September 2006 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a group of French researchers found that the rate of maternal death from C-section was three times that of vaginal delivery, due mostly to increased risk of blood clots, infections, and complications from anesthesia.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy