Fresh on the heels of the NIH VBAC Consensus conference where the panel urged that more women have access to VBAC because it was generally safer for mother and baby, the National Center for Health Statistics released a look at the c-section trends from 1996-2007. Here are some points and thoughts:
- The c-section rate went up 53% in the period from 1996-2007.
- The c-section rates vary widely from state to state, from a low of 25% (Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, and Utah) to a high of 35% (Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and West Virginia).
- The c-section rate in women 25 and under is rising more rapidly than other age groups.
- American Indian and Alaskan Native women had the lowest c-section rates in all ethnic groups, though the number of c-sections increased in every group.
- C-section rates increased more rapidly for singleton deliveries than they did for multiple births (twins, etc.).
While we do not yet have the birth data on a national level for 2008, it is expected in April. Jill from The Unnecesarean reported on the Florida 2008 c-section data. The rate above (35%) is for 2007, in 2008 that number was 38.2%. This includes one hospital with a 71% c-section rate. That's right, 7 out of 10 babies are born via c-section.
So why does the c-section rate keep going up? Some have to do with how birth is thought about in the US. Birth is an emergency - we saw it on TV. (Over and over and over...) We have lost faith in our body's ability to give birth. There is also the side effects from many of the interventions used, induction of labor particularly. Practitioners are rewarded for working efficiently and let's face it, c-sections are nothing if efficient. And yes, this is a litigious society.
What can you do about it when it comes to your birth? Here are some hints:
- Avoid induction of labor unless it truly is medically necessary. As far as length of gestation: That's the completion of 42 weeks per the American Congress of OB/GYNs.
- Hire a practitioner who believes in the body's ability to give birth. If they have a low primary c-section rate, chances are good that they have those beliefs. Switch doctors or practices if necessary.
- Bring knowledgeable support with you. Using a doula lowers the c-section risks by 50%.
There plenty of other things that you can do to avoid a c-section or even another c-section in the case of a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). What are you doing to lower your risk?
- 5 Ways to Avoid Induction of Labor
- 6 Questions to Ask Your Practitioner About VBAC
- Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) Birth Stories
- 10 Reasons to Have a VBAC
- 5 Ways to Avoid a C-Section
- VBAC eCourse
- C-Section Birth
Menacker F, Hamilton BE. Recent trends in cesarean delivery in the United States. NCHS data brief, no 35. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.