Many women think that once you have a cesarean section, you'll always have to have them with subsequent births. However, according to an expert panel of doctors from the National Institutes of Health, vaginal births after C-sections, also known as VBACs, are safe for both the mother and baby.
"Early Show" News Anchor Erica Hill reported C-sections are currently done in the U.S. in astonishingly high numbers. From the latest figures, she said 32 percent of births were C-sections in 2007 -- a record high -- and it was the 11th year of increase.
On "The Early Show," CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a practicing OB-GYN, cited a finding by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that says C-sections should be done for medical reasons only.
"It's a big trend here, obviously a lot of women are electing for repeat C-sections," Ashton said. "We always say this is major abdominal surgery. This is not like going to get your nails done."
But when is a C-section necessary?
Ashton said a C-section may be warranted if a mother is having multiple babies or experiences labor issues, such as the inability to dilate or push out the baby. Also, if concerns for the baby arise, or problems with the placenta occur, she said a C-section is probably the best choice for a healthy delivery.
"Early Show" News Anchor Erica Hill pointed out if a mother wants to have a vaginal delivery after having a C-section on a previous child, it can be hard to do because 30 percent of hospitals have stopped offering VBAC services.
Ashton said this is due to an insurance issue.
"They're afraid of being sued," she said. "Obviously, the risks for both the mother and the baby are much higher, and the hospital has to absorb those risks. But we really need to remember, if you want to consider this, this is a dialogue you need to have with your obstetrician, and find out why did you have your first C-section, because that is the most important predictive factor whether or not you can VBAC."
Hill said the concern is VBAC uterine rupture, which occurs in less than one percent of women.
According to the ACOG, some of the benefits to having a VBAC birth include shorter maternal hospitalizations, less blood loss, a lower risk of infection and avoiding another scar on the uterus and in the skin.
Also, a baby born vaginally may experience benefits "for life," Ashton said.
"There's a theory that it squeezes some of the water out of the baby's lungs."
She continued, "So usually a C-section is a little riskier for the mom. Vaginal births may be riskier for the baby. This is not an easy decision. You have to have this conversation with your doctor."