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Cesarean Section or C-section
What is a Cesarean Section?
Cesarean section is the surgical delivery of an infant through incisions in the uterus and abdomen. Cesarean section is performed with anesthesia – spinal, epidural, or general. It is often necessary in the setting of breech presentation (butt down) or the inability of an infant to tolerate labor. Sometimes labor does not progress normally, and despite all efforts to correct that obstacle, a C-section is necessary to safely bring the infant into this world. Other C-sections are done for twins or triplets, but most twins can deliver vaginally if the lower fetus is head down.
C-section Rates in the US
C-section rates vary greatly between physicians, hospitals, and countries. While the World Health Organizations estimates that C-section rates should approximate 15%, the C-section rate in Texas is 34%. It is important to know the C-section rate for your obstetrician as this impacts the likelihood of having one.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), 1 in 3 women in the US gave birth by cesarean section in 2011. There has been an increase in cesarean sections from 1996 to 2011. Cesarean delivery can be the safest method for the fetus and mother in certain clinical conditions. However, for most low-risk pregnancies, C-sections may not be necessary. It is up to health care providers to reduce the overuse of cesarean sections, especially in cases of primary cesarean delivery. There are concerns about the long-term risks of cesarean sections and its impact on the mother’s future pregnancies.
Clinical Reasons for having a C-Section
Reasons for having a cesarean section include:
- Failure of labor to progress with sufficient contractions to open the cervix enough for the baby
- Concern for the safety of the baby
- Multiple pregnancy – the need for a C-section increases with multiple babies
- Issues with the placenta
- A large baby
- Breech position
- Maternal infections and medical conditions
As with any procedure, there are risks and benefits that need to be weighed in choosing to have a C-section. Ultimately, for those that need C-section, it is fortunate that a surgical birth can be performed safely to allow mom and baby a safe journey through birth. At ObGyn North (link to home), our C-section rate for all patients, including those electing repeat C-section, is approximately 20 percent. We pride ourselves in practicing science-based obstetrics which when followed naturally results in lower C-section rates. The magic that creates this is “patience”. Anyone interested in reading about the reduction of C-section rates through evidence-based practice would enjoy reading the ACOG statement on the safe reduction of C-section rates.
Additional Reading – Cesarean Sections
For additional information on C-sections, please read: