A cesarean (sih-ZEHR-ee-un) section, or C-section, in which the baby is removed through an incision made in the abdominal wall and uterus, can be a lifesaving sur­gery for the mother and child (Ananth & Vintzileos, 2011). Cesarean birth is rec­ommended in a variety of situations, including when the fetal head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvic structure, when the mother is ill, or when there are indications of fetal distress during labor or birth complications, such as a breech

(c) Third stage

Expulsion of the placenta, blood, and fluid (“afterbirth”)

I Figure 11.6 The three stages of childbirth: (a) first-stage labor, (b) second-stage labor, and (c) third-stage labor.

presentation (feet or bottom coming out of the uterus first). Mothers who experience a C-section often have anesthesia that allows them to be awake to greet their baby when he or she is born. In many hospitals fathers remain with the mothers during cesarean births.

A decade ago, one in five babies was delivered by C-section: Currently one out of three babies is delivered by C-section (Hunter, 2011). Some maintain that high rates reflect better use of medical technology. Others believe that cesarean sections are used too readily. An analysis of birth data found that 11% of C-sections for a first pregnancy and 65% of repeat C-sections may not have been necessary (Kabir, 2005). Intensive fetal monitoring, aggres­sive malpractice lawsuits if serious problems follow a vaginal birth, and maternal and physician preference are three reasons for the increase (Hunter, 2011).

Conceiving Children: process and Choice