Why C-section Deliveries Are Becoming Safer for Moms-to-Be

Photo: Veer / The Bump
Photo: Veer / The Bump

According to a new government report, researchers found that C-section deliveries are taking place closer to a mother’s due date than ever before. From figures released Thursday, the research shows what appears to be a significant shift in when pregnant women are scheduling their C-section operations. The results show that after 12 years, the U.S.’s high level of C-section deliveries has finally stopped rising.

Dr. Barbara Stoll, a specialist in the care of newborns at Emory University, said, “People are getting the message.” Other experts in the medical field call the change in scheduled C-section births great news, believing that the government report shows that both doctors and mothers have absorbed all the of the warnings about the risk of C-sections and the importance of waiting to deliver until baby is full-term.

In 1970, the U.S. rate of C-section operations (usually done only when a fetus was in danger) was only 5 percent of all births. By 2009, about a third of U.S. births were done via C-section. Experts say that there were many factors to blame for driving the rate up so drastically, including the convenience of scheduling a delivery. According to research conducted in 2011 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall rate was down to 33 percent, which shows that the rate has at least stopped rising since 2009.

The most recent report, which focused on preliminary data for 2011′s single-child deliveries (about 96 percent of all births), the trend was similar to the overall numbers reported in 2011: C-section birth rates were at 31 percent since 2009. The report found very little change in C-section deliveries from 37 weeks of gestation between 2009 and 2011, which means that after rising for a dozen straight years, the upward trend has finally stopped. The current research also showed that at 38 weeks the rate fell 5 more percent, to only 32 percent of births. At 39 weeks gestation, the rate rose 4 percent, to 34 percent of births but dropped again at 40 weeks gestation, where it was held at 25 percent of C-section births.

A health statistician from the CDC, Michelle Osterman, said that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention had originally hoped to figure out from the report why overall rates in C-section deliveries had leveled off, but the findings didn’t provide any immediate answers. Looking ahead to the future, health officials wnat to push the rate of C-section deliveries down to 15 percent.

Did you schedule your C-section delivery early? If so, why?

Plus, more from The Bump:

How and When to Schedule a C-section

Ways to Avoid a C-section

10+ Things No One Tells You About C-sections