More Women Delivering Babies by Caesarean Section

While more are having the procedure, some say it ruins the birthing experience.

ByABC News
February 9, 2009, 9:12 AM

March 24, 2008— -- CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- Tiffany Leibold cried when her doctor told her she needed to have a Caesarean section.

"I cried because...I'd never had surgery and that scared me," said Leibold, 30, of North Liberty. "We kept hoping that we would be able to experience having him come on his own."

But, little Brady, now 4 months old, was breech, and a week before Leibold's due date there wasn't enough amniotic fluid to manipulate him into the right position.

Breech babies are just one of the reasons doctors routinely perform C-sections. And, Leibold is just one of a growing contingent of women to deliver their baby via C-section.

In 10 years, the proportion of American women having surgical deliveries jumped by 62 percent, from 800,000 women in 1995 to 1.3 million in 2005, according to a report released in February by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

That means nearly one in three pregnancies now ends with a C-section.

Dr. Jerry Yankowitz, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Iowa, said the increase can be explained partially by medical advancements that decrease the risk of a surgical delivery. A number of women choose to have C-sections out of convenience or to avoid some of the side effects of a vaginal delivery.

"You put it all together and it gives doctors more permission to do C-sections," said Yankowitz, 49. "Our threshold (for performing C-sections) today would be much much lower than any past decade."

If there is any doubt that a labor and delivery will progress without harm to the mother or child, doctors today are much more likely to consider a C-section.

That leaves literally millions of women recovering from C-sections every year. The experience can be isolating and disappointing for some.

"At that stage in your pregnancy you have this idea about how things are going to be," said Tracy Peterson, 29, of Springville. She was surprised to find out her daughter Addison was breech three weeks before her due date.