How to avoid a cesarean that you don’t want?

Before I can shut my eyes, I see the details around me. The room looks a lot like the ones on TV. This is where people’s hearts stop and surgeons talk about expensive restaurants while taking out organs. A nurse straps a tight Velcro belt over my chest and then ties my wrists down with two smaller straps.

It’s May 2006 and I’m having a non-emergency, unnecessary and unwanted cesarean in San Francisco, Calif. Cesarean section is the most common operating-room procedure in the United States. The surgery accounts for one in three American births, and 90 percent of women who deliver their first child by c-section do the same for their second.

Here are four lessons that I learned that could help you avoid what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is saying is a “significant concern”:

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