Sound advice on a controversial, fast-changing subject from an informed observer of the maternity-care scene. Within the last ten years, Norwood (At Highest Risk: Environmental Hazards to Young and Unborn Children) points out, ""the process of giving birth has changed so drastically that, for the first time in history, almost one-fifth of mothers face the prospect that their babies will be delivered surgically."" But, she also notes: ""90 percent of mothers still have essentially normal, full-term pregnancies."" To guard against unnecessary surgery, ""these mothers simply need to understand the few basic questions to ask when choosing a hospital or birth attendant."" Norwood then lays out the issues. She explains the procedure itself, and the indications for section--concurring with the statistical finding that more than half of Cesareans are not medically necessary. She also looks into the reasons for the explosion: over-diagnosis of fetal distress, the threat of malpractice, the outdated practice of automatic repeat Cesareans. But the most important factors in determining whether or nota mother will undergo a Cesarean, says Norwood, are who she is and where she delivers: private patients in hospitals where Cesarean sections are encouraged as policy are most likely to undergo the procedure. Key questions that prospective mothers can ask to reduce the possibility of surgery are: What are the Cesarean rates of the hospital and the physician? (If they're high, simply look elsewhere.) Does the hospital require physician peer review for Cesareans? Does the hospital employ nurse-midwives and alternative birthrooms? Norwood includes other inquiry guidelines; she discusses ""Special Mothers and Normal Births"" (breech babies, twins, babies of diabetic mothers can all be delivered normally); and, finally, she provides information on being prepared for surgery, so mothers who do have Cesareans can come through in the best possible shape. Realistic, well-supported, up-to-date.