Birth by cesarean section (c-section) has doubled in the last ten years. Statistics show that one in three American babies is now delivered by cesarean. A c-section is a form of childbirth where a surgical incision is made through a woman’s abdomen and uterus to extract the baby (or babies). While many of these procedures are medically necessary–to save the life of the mother or baby–a large number of women are electing to have cesarean sections as their first option, that is, without trying to deliver vaginally. In fact, elective c-section is all the rage in Hollywood today, with many a young starlet opting for one (or two as is purportedly the case with this out-of-control Hoochie Mama).

But, once again, I must point out that surgery is not without risks. This is especially true for the now routine c-section: Recent research shows that babies delivered by non-emergency c-section have a four times greater chance of having breathing problems. According to Anne Hansen of the Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, one of the lead researchers in the study, the greatest risk is seen when the procedure is performed early on–before the 39th week of pregnancy. Therefore, she states, if a woman is going to elect for this procedure, it probably shouldn’t be done before this time. It is as of yet unclear why babies born by cesarean might have breathing difficulties, but researchers believe that stress hormones produced by the mother during labor actually help the baby’s lungs mature.

C-sections, without a doubt, are a blessing to any family who has had the horror of experiencing a dangerous labor. There was a time when either mother or baby, or both, might be lost during difficult birthing. Thanks to c-sections, though, many lives have been spared; and probably everyone reading this has a loved one in the world today because of this blessed procedure. But saying that, isn’t it a shame that so many women are choosing not to experience the incredible process of giving birth the old fashioned way? Aside from the bond that is established between mother and child during this laborious process, there must be physiological, hormonal, and–excuse my metaphysics, but–energetic benefits to the entire process. To just bypass this most natural act, this integral part of our evolution, seems a bit detached to me. What’s next? Portable colostomy bags? I mean, what the heck–it’s uncomfortable and…I really can’t be bothered, so…sheesh.

Listen, this isn’t a morality trip but, unless you know it’ll be a hazard to your health or the health of your baby, don’t opt out of the beautiful birthing experience. The labor is worth the pain. It was by far the greatest experience my wife and I have ever had (yes, better than mushrooms and whiskey, much better). And besides, it turns out it’s better for your baby too.

Check out this blogger’s hysterical take on elective c-sections.

And something on the more serious side.

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