Trend slowing for C-sections and induced labors
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a steady decrease in the number of elective and scheduled cesarean section (C-section) deliveries.
From 1996 to 2009, the C-section delivery rate accounted for a record 33 percent of births nationwide and most concerning were those scheduled before 38 weeks when the risk of complications is greater. The report showed that many women chose to induce labor or schedule a C-section at 37 or 38 weeks of gestation in anticipation of a large baby.
Since then, CDC data collected from 2009-2011 shows that the numbers of C-sections and induced labors have remained steady. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a policy statement this year recommending that pregnant women plan for vaginal birth unless there is a medical reason for a cesarean or labor induction earlier than 39 weeks.
“What many moms don’t realize is that cesareans involve risks and require longer hospital stays than uncomplicated vaginal births,” Dr. Crandall says.
He says that other health risks to the mother from C-sections can include:
- Bladder and bowel injuries
- Placental problems
- Uterine rupture
- And in rare cases an emergency hysterectomy
Dr. Crandall says that vaginal births have more benefits to the woman such as shorter hospital stays, lower infection rates and quicker recovery. Babies born vaginally also have a lower risk of respiratory problems, he says.
Recently the March of Dimes conducted a campaign called “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.” The campaign states that a baby needs 39 weeks of gestation for the following reasons:
- Important organs, like brain, lungs and liver, get the time they need to develop.
- He/she is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
- He/she has time to gain more weight in the womb. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
- He/she can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he’s born. Babies born early sometimes can’t do these things.
“The fact that the overall rate has stopped increasing is significant in and of itself,” Dr. Crandall says. “Cesarean section comes with a lot of risks and we often like to try for a traditional vaginal delivery before jumping into a surgical procedure that isn’t necessarily helpful for the mother or the baby.”
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