Labor, Interrupted

Obstetrics in modern America is a contentious subject in general. Birth and the actions surrounding it—medical and otherwise—evoke strong emotions. The discussion is often framed ideologically as a matter of nature versus technology and which side knows best, or in stark political and economic terms as a contest of power and money. The issue of C-sections, in particular, is much contested. It’s useful to see cesareans’ ascendance as a result of the ways doctors, patients, and hospitals perceive and react to risk—and of how medicine has developed in this context. Understanding such interactive reasons, and responding thoughtfully to them, experts say, could help reduce the procedure’s use.

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