Avoiding a c-section is probably a big part of your birth plan. But even the best laid plans go can go awry during labor, and you’ll probably defer to your doctor and the hospital staff. The problem? A new report shows hospitals across the country are on very different pages when it comes to making the judgment call for a c-section.
Consumer Reports looked at over 1,300 hospitals across the US to see how their c-section averages compared to the national c-section average. And while 32 percent of American women are having c-sections every year, they looked through an even narrower lens, only accounting for women expecting one child who is full-term and is positioned head first. For these moms-to-be, the national average c-section rate is 25.8 percent.
The goal, for both health professionals and pregnant women, is to lower this number. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services has set the national target for these low-risk pregnancies at 23.9 percent. But that number should never drop to zero.
“We don’t want a cesarean rate of 0 percent,” Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH, tells The Bump. “The World Health Organization found 10 to 15 percent of labors need to be delivered via cesarean in order for moms and babies to be healthy. If you or your baby need a cesarean birth, please know how very lucky you are to be in a time and a place where you can safely have one. But also do the legwork up front to ensure that you are having your baby with a team of providers whom you trust to help avoid a surgery you don’t need. Then, if they’re recommending it in the course of your care, you can trust their opinions and trust your own experience that this was what had to happen, and that giving birth via cesarean is the right choice for you and your baby.”
Consumer Reports shows we have some work to do before all moms can feel confident in their providers.
How many hospitals are performing too many c-sections?
In short, more than half. Six out of 10 hospitals had c-section rates above the national low-risk target of 23.9 percent.
And geography matters, to an extent. In general, rates are lower…