Study Suggests Doctors Perform Too Many C-Sections

Many doctors call for a cesarean section for various reasons, but new research suggests that these recommendations may not be necessary.
Pregnant woman in hospital gown
Photo credit: Jupiter images/liquid library/360/Getty Images

Studies behind the accusations

According to Health Affairs, a C-section "is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States." Not only that but the rate for this procedure is increasing... a lot. The study also found that C-section rates varied tenfold in hospitals across the country, from 7.1 to 69.9 percent, according to data from 2009 that included 593 U.S. hospitals.

The latest study from Consumer Reports, which looked at more than 1,500 hospitals in 22 states, found that the "number of procedures performed vary wildly — even at hospitals in the same town." However, some hospitals do not make such information available.

Why is this happening?

So why are so many C-sections being performed in U.S. hospitals? CNN reports, "Doctors may be performing them based more out of habit, training, expediency or worry about lawsuits than out of medical necessity, according to the studies."

C-sections are safe and necessary... sometimes

C-sections are considered safe and they are indeed medically necessary at times when either the baby's or the mother's life could be endangered by a vaginal birth. However, the CDC's report states that almost 33 percent of women in the U.S. are delivering via C-section, which suggests that even low-risk births are resulting in a C-section. And there are risks with a C-section delivery, too, such as infection, increased bleeding, reactions to anesthesia and blood clots.

Speak up

If you don't want to end up with a C-section of convenience versus necessity, talk to your doctor about your birth plan wishes at the beginning of your pregnancy so he is aware of how strongly you feel about delivering vaginally if everything goes according to plan. If complications arise throughout the pregnancy and your doctor suggests a C-section may be necessary, consult a second opinion if you still feel strongly that a vaginal delivery is (safely) possible. Trusting your doctor, and his advice, when it comes to the delivery of your baby is of the utmost importance.

More on labor and delivery

5 Tips for choosing a pregnancy healthcare provider
Advanced pregnancy tests scaring moms-to-be
Baby's first breath comes 28 minutes after birth

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