C-Sections On The Rise

Erica DiMartino was excited about every aspect of bringing a baby into the world, except one minor detail – labor.

"If I didn't have to I didn't want to" go through labor, she said.

So she asked her doctor if she could schedule a C-section for no medical reason other than she didn't want to be in labor. And he said, "No problem."

"From my perspective as an obstetrician, I think it's a good thing," said Micheal Sbarra of Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey.

They're called "patient choice" or elective caesarians, reports CBS News medical correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin. Pick a date, write it on your calendar, have a baby. No sweat and no surprises. In our modern world where convenience is king, this trend is really taking off.

According to the latest statistics, the number of women opting for patient choice c-sections rose by 36 percent between 2001 and 2003.

What about the risks? It's no longer so clear cut.

C-sections are major surgery and can cause bleeding, infection, scarring and hernias. But vaginal deliveries can harm the baby, cause tearing, sexual problems and incontinence.

But the risks in both cases are so minimal these days that even ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians, says there's no one right answer about what to recommend.

That puts the decision in the woman's hands.

"I researched the pros and cons to see if there were any real negatives," said Jennifer Feeney. She says she found no good reason not to deliver her son Logan by c-section.

"I just did not want to experience labor. I just did not want to do it, Feeney said. "I just had no interest in the whole thing. It just seemed hideous to me."

While the majority of obstetricians are going with the flow, Dr. Peter Bernstein is swimming upstream.

"This isn't a good trend," Bernstein said.

More c-sections mean longer hospital stays and repeat caesarians are more risky he says, leading to potential transfusions and hysterectomies.

And then there's the big picture: what about what nature planned?

"I think what they're missing is a very empowering event," Bernstein says.

But chances are Erica DiMartino will tell you she's not missing out on anything. She delivered a healthy baby boy, right on schedule.