According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1 in 3 babies in the United States are delivered by C-section. Over the past 10-15 years the rate of Cesarean births has increased dramatically. As cited in USA Today, between 2002 and 2009, the number of Cesarean deliveries rose significantly, from 27 percent of births to 34 percent. Some Cesarean sections (C-sections) are performed because they are medically necessary due to complications that may affect the mother or baby; sometimes they are used to prevent a medical issue from occurring; and sometimes they are voluntary. According to a report from the March of Dimes and the American Pregnancy Association the following are the most common reasons C-sections are performed in the United States:
- Some women request them because they don’t want to have the baby vaginally.
- The timing of the delivery is more convenient for the doctor or the mother.
- Women now give birth later in life and are considered to be at higher risk for complications during pregnancy and delivery.
- Medical issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, preeclampsia, etc.
- During labor and delivery there could be issues with the placenta, umbilical cord, the baby could be breech or in distress, the mother could have an infection, etc.
- If the women is delivering multiple babies.
- Some women may not have any education on the procedure and opt for it right away when they believe there could be a potential complication.
- Fear of malpractice.
- Some suggest that inducing labor or using epidural drugs may increase the likelihood of having a C-section.
Why would you want to prevent a C-section, anyway? A C-section, like other major surgical procedures, can have serious potential short-term and long-term effects. There can be risks and complications to both mother AND baby. Unfortunately, because the procedure has become so common, many women do not educate themselves on why they should or shouldn’t have the surgery (and we understand that women sometimes don’t have the choice).
What Can You Do to Try to Prevent a C-Section?
- Locate a medical provider with a low rate of intervention.
- Ask your medical provider about their rates and how they feel about performing C-sections.
- Create a birth plan and ask your medical provider what research they have on how to reduce the risk of having a C-section.
- Do your research: find out if your community hospital and/or birth centers in your area provide childbirth classes, read books on the topic, check out the March of Dimes website, and prepare questions to ask at each prenatal appointment. The information learned through these sources will also help you to become more familiar with labor and pushing positions.
- Look into labor support from a doula and involve your family member or support person when you attend the classes. According to the American Pregnancy Association, women with continuous labor support are 26% less likely to have a C-section.
- Find non-medical pain management techniques that will work for you (such as meditation and relaxation techniques, stretching, walking, music, etc.)
- Make sure your support person, doctor and/or midwife knows ahead of time how you feel about C-sections. You will probably not feel like yourself during labor and may need your support person to be your voice.
- Ask your medical provider how long you can labor at home. A common reason for Cesareans is prolonged labor at the hospital.
- Do not have a voluntary induction.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog post, which will give additional information about what occurs during and after the procedure.