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More Women Opting for Caesarean, Unaware of Consequences

About a quarter of all babies in Germany are delivered with the help of a Caesarean section or c-section, a surgical incision made// through the mother's abdominal and uterine walls.

Originally a life-saving procedure for mother and child, c-sections are increasingly being performed "just to be on the safe side."

Many women know little about their consequences, however.

For medical reasons some women have no choice but to have a c-section. If, for example, the baby's heart rate changes during labour, then a c-section is unavoidable. There are also a number of prenatal indications necessitating a c-section, including transverse presentation (the baby lies crosswise in the uterus) and women with extremely deformed pelvises.

Doctors assess some medical indications differently.

"One of them is breech presentation" (the baby's buttocks are at the bottom of the uterus, its head at the top), said Klaus Vetter, vice president of the Berlin-based German Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. When a c-section is merely optional, more and more women and their doctors opt for the procedure nowadays.

Women with no medical grounds for a c-section are also opting for the surgery more frequently.

"There are women who are very afraid of pain or who have had a traumatic childbirth in the past," noted Ines Albrecht-Engel of the Berlin-based Society for Prenatal Preparation, Starting a Family, and Women's Health. Another reason is the desire to plan the delivery date.

It is important to consider the consequences of a c-section. They include an increased chance of embolism and thrombosis. "The woman needs to know that the scar in her uterus is a weak spot," Vetter said. In subsequent pregnancies there is a greater risk of placenta accreta (abnormally firm attachment of the placenta to the uterine wall) and uterine rupture.

During a normal, vaginal birth, maternal-behaviou
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