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C-Section Often Best for Breech Babies

WebMD Health News

April 9, 2002 -- Women who have a planned cesarean delivery to avoid a breech (bottom first) birth may reduce their risk of some unpleasant side effects of childbirth -- without increasing the risk of other complications.

A new study shows planned cesarean delivery does not raise the risk of problems with infant health, breastfeeding, sexual relations, postpartum depression, and other issues up to three months after birth. But women who have the procedure report fewer problems with urinary incontinence and intestinal gas, which are common conditions in the weeks following childbirth.

The study is published in the April 10 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cesarean or C-section deliveries are usually performed to reduce the risks to the infant, such as when the fetus is in a breech position rather than head first in the birth canal. But the risks to the mother caused by the surgical procedure may be greater than with a normal vaginal delivery.

Although a recent study found that planned C-sections reduced the health risks to infant without increasing the risk of death for the mother, researchers say little is known about the how the procedures affect mother and child months after birth.

Some studies also have suggested that cesarean deliveries may increase common early motherhood problems like difficulty breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and negative feelings about the childbirth process.

But in this study, Mary E. Hannah, MDCM, and colleagues at the University of Toronto found there were no differences in these problems among a group of more than 1,500 new mothers who had either a planned vaginal or C-section delivery of their breech baby.

In fact, women who had cesareans reported fewer problems with urinary incontinence and intestinal gas.

Despite these findings, researchers say planned cesareans should not be over-used because the long-term effects on mother and child are unknown.

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