There’s a reason it’s called natural birth

And that’s probably because, all else being equal, it’s a better way to deliver your children – that’s sort of what women’s bodies are designed for. Certainly better for everyone, mom and baby, than a medically unnecessary C-section. Yet the rates of births by C-section around the world are so high they’re called “epidemic”. Why?

Reasons for elective C-sections vary globally, but increasing rates in many developing countries coincide with a rise in patients’ wealth and improved medical facilities.

In Asia, some women opt for the surgery to choose their delivery day after consulting fortune tellers for “lucky” birthdays or times. Others fear painful natural births or worry their vaginas may be stretched or damaged by a normal delivery. Some women also prefer the operation because they mistakenly believe it is less risky.

Others want to make sure the birth of their baby fits into their schedule. In other cases it appears doctors and hospitals push for them (pardon the pun), either because they make more money that way or to avoid malpractice suits. I’m trying to decide which reason is craziest: Worrying about what a baby (roughly the size of a small elephant, at least if you ask women in their ninth month of pregnancy) will do to a woman’s inner plumbing, or making sure the child’s birth won’t interfere with a busy work and social schedule, or ensure a happy future for the child based on a fortune teller’s say-so?

I gather that when you need one in a hurry, a C-section is like a gift from heaven. And it’s great that we live in a world where such life-saving surgeries are readily available. I feel the same way about open-heart surgery or radiation therapy, yet I wouldn’t want to have any of those procedures performed on me unless it was absolutely necessary.

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