Cesarean Prevention

Why So Many C-Sections?

What is all the buzz about these days about C-sections? Could it be that they have increased by 32.8% in 2010 and 2011, that’s 1 in 3 compared to 1 in 5 in 1996. During the same time period, the annual medical costs of childbirth in the U.S. have grown by $3 billion annually!! So why the enormous increase?

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Fear of malpractice liability is frequently cited as a major driver of the extensive use of cesarean section. In today’s society people are more tolerant of every surgical procedure, and that is reflected in the practices of many health care professionals. The cesarean trends are accepted as a practice style rather than a last resort. The current “global fee” method of paying for childbirth does not provide any extra pay for the providers who support a vaginal birth, often being more timely. It is also more convenient for the health provider so they can organize it into their schedule and personal life. So could it boil down to profit and simple scheduling?

What You Should Know About C-Section Births

Another reason of the increase is limited awareness when going into the hospital for your birth. As an expecting parent, it’s important that you educate yourselves about what options you have prior to going into labor. Current research suggests that some labor interventions make a c-section more likely such as labor induction, continuous electronic fetal monitoring and having an epidural early in labor. All of which are offered during a normal delivery. Taking a childbirth class around your 35th week of pregnancy will educate you of what to expect during your labor experience. Hiring a Doula to provide you continuous support during labor reduces the likelihood of a c-section as well.

Some cesarean births are planned ahead of time when there are known medical problems that could make labor or delivery dangerous for mom or baby. Medical reasons for a planned cesarean may include:

  • Baby is in a breech position. Although some doctors and midwifes will deliver a breech baby.
  • A maternal disease like a heart condition that may be made worse with the stress of labor and delivery.
  • Placenta previa, this is when the placenta is blocking the cervix.
  • HIV or other STDs which could be passed to the baby during a vaginal delivery.
  • Multiples, although many women delivery vaginally, most are a planned c-section.

So if all is going well in your pregnancy you shouldn’t have a birth with the fear of a c-section. Because it is considered major surgery there are a few risks that you should be aware of with each c-section..

  • Infection can occur 5%-10% if the time.
  • Potential problems for subsequent pregnancies like placenta previa.
  • A small risk of blood clots.
  • A build up of scar tissue on the uterus after a cesarean birth which could cause problems in subsequent births.

What you can do to avoid a cesarean delivery? Below are a few things to start with:

Avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
Allow prolonged early phase labor.
Consider cervical dilation of 6 centimeters (instead of 4) as the start of active phase labor.
Allow more time for labor to progress in the active phase.
Allow to push for at least two hours, or three hours if it’s your first birth.