For some, a Caesarian section is the only safe option for giving birth. And for others, it's a way to have a baby on a timetable. Doctors disagree on who should get a C-section, but the ones CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith talked to agreed that everyone should understand what's involved.
Dr. Jacques Moritz, chief of gynecology at St. Lukes Hospital in New York, says, "The chance of someone having a baby in this country by C-section is approximately 25 percent, which is a large number and it's going up. There are no numbers on elective C-sections, but it appears in my experience that it is rising."
To many moms, choosing a C-section can have its advantages. Randi Rosenberg gave birth to daughter Alexandra by elective C-section just last month.
"The surgery itself was incredibly fast," she says. "By the time I was numb from the anesthesia, literally, I felt a little bit of tugging and I said, 'Hey, what's going on down there.' And the doctor said, 'We're delivering your baby.' And from that moment to when she actually came out and cried was 10 minutes."
Although Rosenberg's C-section was relatively easy, the decision to have it was hard. She was told she was healthy enough for natural childbirth. But she also had a history of uterine fibroid tumors, so she went for the Caesarian.
And, like many moms who choose the procedure, Rosenberg was just a bit older and just a bit busier than the average mom-to-be.
She notes, "In today's day and age, women are so busy; people are so busy. For me personally, I run my own business and I didn't have the luxury of maternity leave because there's no one to fill in for me when the office is closed. So knowing when I was going to have the baby was really a benefit."
But even the doctor who delivered her baby is quick to point out the potential downside.
Dr. Moritz says, "The major reasons for (elective) C-section is control. They want to know that they are going to come in at 9 on X date and have their baby. But there's a risk in all of this control, and the risk can be death. This is a major operation. It's not like going to the beauty salon, or getting your nails done, or getting a bikini wax. This is a big, big deal."
And there are other potential problems that may not be apparent to someone contemplating a Caesarian delivery, like what your body is going to look like down the road.
Dr. Michael Silverstein, assistant professor of Ob/Gyn at New York University, says, "The truth is that the incision is often less attractive in the abdomen than after a vaginal delivery. The return to aerobics and exercise is much shorter after a vaginal delivery. So the patient that wants to get back into the gym and get slender and fit again is probably going to have the greatest chance of doing that following a vaginal delivery."
Even so, Rosenberg says that the benefits have, in her case, outweighed the risks.
She says, "There's no right answer. Every individual makes the decision that suits her. And for those who pass judgment on one way or the other, it's really unfair."
Dr Moritz emphasized that, in his practice, it's ultimately the woman's choice how she has her baby.