LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Women have long preferred the natural way to give birth but an increasing number of expectant mothers are requesting Caesarian sections. Many women say the procedure is more convenient but opponents warn that it can pose risks to the mother and the baby.
Tracey Smith said the birth of her daughter three months ago went exactly according to plan.
"The contractions and everything that you go through with natural birth, it frightened me. I would like to plan when she was coming into this world and my doctor helped decided that for me," Smith said.
The Redondo Beach mother said her doctor told her the procedure was the best option at her age.
"It was the most convenient thing I have ever experienced," Smith said.
About 32 percent of deliveries nationwide are by Cesarian section.
Many women say they choose the procedure because they fear the pain and the relatively unexpected nature of natural birth.
C-section opponent Patricia Grube, co-director of the International Cesarian Awareness Network of West Los Angeles, said elective c-sections jeopardize the lives of mothers and babies. Grube has made it her mission to educate and to prevent unnecessary c-sections.
"What we teach women in yoga is, first and foremost, the connection to breathing in and breathing out and relaxing their body so, when they are in labor, they get out of the fear-tension-pain cycle," Grube said.
Grube directs "Serenity Birth", providing doula support and teaches childbirth education to hospital and homebirth clients.
Doctor Sara Kilpatrick, chair of OBGYN at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, said more women are choosing the procedure due to its convenience.
But Torrance mother Kerry Rasmussen is among the minority. She had a vaginal birth after c-sections.
"I would've liked both births to be natural. It would have been so much easier," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen's natural birth with her first daughter did not go according to plan. She tried pushing for three hours and doctors decided to give her an emergency c-section, because of liability issues.
Rasmussen said the c-section left her traumatized. The mother delivered her second daughter last month the old-fashioned way.
"Cesarian was really more painful. When you can't laugh or sneeze for a month without feeling major pain in your abdomen -- that's difficult," Rasmussen said.
Still, there are women who'd prefer to customize their delivery and deal with the extended recovery time than undergo vaginal delivery.
"I had a wonderful doctor and I had no labor pain and no contractions. And I was thrilled not to go through pain of labor. If women want to do [vaginal delivery] that's fine for them but it wasn't for me."
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