C-Section Rates Are at All-Time High
U.S. Has About 1.4 Million Cesarean Births Each Year
Primary C-Sections on the Rise
Maureen Corry, who is executive director of the birth research and advocacy
group Childbirth Connection, applauds the panel's action.
But she tells WebMD that lack of access to VBAC is just one of several
factors driving the steady increase in C-section deliveries in the U.S.
"There has also been a big increase in the number of first-time cesarean
sections over the last decade," she says.
Women who are older and those delivering more than one baby are more likely
to have C-sections.
Corry says older maternal age and rising multiple birth rates may be factors
in the rising rate of surgical deliveries, but they are not driving the
Likewise, few women are demanding medically unnecessary surgical births,
even though so-called "C-section on demand" has received much attention in the
media, she says.
In a 2005 survey conducted for Childbirth Connection, just one in 1,600
women reported having a planned, first C-section for no medical reason at her
Economics and litigation fears play a big part in this, she says. Surgical
births are more lucrative for hospitals and doctors.
"From the doctor's point of view, a scheduled 45-minute surgery would have
to be preferable to getting up in the middle of the night to attend to a woman
who might labor for many hours," she says.
And while hospitals and ob-gyns are often sued when labor goes wrong, this
is not the case with surgical deliveries, Northwestern Memorial Hospital ob-gyn
Lauren Streicher, MD, tells WebMD.
Streicher is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at
Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.
She tells the story of a patient who delivered a severely brain damaged
child following an uncomplicated pregnancy and scheduled C-section.
"She is still a patient, and she tells me people often ask her how much she
sued for," Streicher says. "Her response is that she didn't sue because no one
did anything wrong. But had she labored, there would have been no way to know
that the delivery didn't cause the brain damage."