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Soc Sci Med. 2007 Jun;64(11):2272-84. Epub 2007 Mar 29.

Psychosocial sequelae of cesarean delivery: review and analysis of their causes and implications.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA.


A growing number of children around the world are being born by surgical delivery, or cesarean section. Concerns over rising rates of cesareans have focused on the risk of death and medical complications associated with surgical delivery but have largely neglected psychosocial and behavioral factors that affect and are affected by cesarean delivery. We summarize research which indicates that women who deliver by cesarean section have more negative perceptions of their birth experience, their selves, and their infants, exhibit poorer parenting behaviors, and may be at higher risk for postpartum mood disturbance compared to women delivering infants vaginally. We also review evidence that suggests that cesareans adversely influence women's moods and perceptions by restricting the control that they can exercise over birth and by violating expectations about childbirth. Based on these findings, we recommend ways to reduce the aversiveness of cesareans, offer recommendations for future research, and discuss implications of escalating rates of cesareans, including medically non-indicated cesareans by request.

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