Going through the process of labor, regardless of how a baby is delivered, may confer benefits as well, says study leader Anne Kirkeby Hansen, a research fellow at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. "Certain stress hormones are released right before and during labor that are very important for lung maturity."
There's no question that some women need C-sections, such as those with placenta previa. But the World Health Organization recommends a cap of 15 percent of deliveries—the U.S. rate in 1978—based on evidence showing that higher levels don't benefit either mother or baby. Though the drama-free planned C-section certainly has its appeal, Declercq stresses that women and doctors need to "stop seeing it as just another surgery."