For pregnant women everywhere, especially first-time moms, the possibility of having a cesarean section birth, or C-section, is very real.
The numbers have steadily increased for C-section births, especially for high-risk pregnancies like those of women having twins, or breech babies, or who are experiencing prolonged labor.
In 2005, according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) the C-section rate nationally was 29.1 percent, or more than one in four women.
The reasons for the uptick in C-section births vary. Some experts say that the use of fetal monitors, which keep track of the heartbeat of the baby in utero, can give inaccurate readings and can push a doctor to recommend a C-section.
The decline of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBACs) may also be a contributing factor. The VBAC rate went from 28 percent in 1996 to only 9 percent in 2014. Due to a small (1 percent) chance of a uterine rupture, many hospitals and doctors will not allow VBACs to even be attempted.
A third cause in the rise of C-sections is what some say is a decline of the skill of doctors who are used to delivering vaginally in only the easiest situations.
Whatever the reasons for the increase of the C-section rate, that doesn’t mean you have to be included in these statistics. Cesarean sections may be medically necessary to ensure the health of both mother and child in some cases. But there are things that pregnant women can do to lower their chances of having a C-section.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your odds:
1) Look for a doctor who is inclined towards vaginal births.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the doctor’s first-time C-section rate as well as that rate for their practice as a whole. Let your doctor know you prefer a vaginal birth if at all possible.
2) Check out the C-section rates of the hospitals where you may deliver.
Only two states (New York and Massachusetts) are required to publish this information, but it can usually be found with a Google search or by calling the hospital directly.