Nearly one-third of all births in the U.S. were via cesarean section in 2007. According to a new study out this month, the rate of cesarean delivery rose by 53% from 1996 to 2007. An increase showed for mothers of all ages and across racial and Hispanic-origin groups. And an increase was seen in every state in the country, six states with an increase as high as 70%!
Cesarean section is delivery of a baby by major abdominal surgery. Like any major surgery, there are certain risks associated with cesarean delivery. C-section, however, can be a lifesaving operation when either you or your baby face certain problems before or during labor and delivery. Because cesarean section is major surgery, it should be performed only when the health of the mother or baby is at risk.
According to the study, cesarean rates were higher for both early and late preterm infants (before 37 weeks) than for term infants. Preterm infants are more likely to have medical problems than babies born a few weeks later at full term. These babies often spend time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) receiving expert, yet costly, care. (The hospital cost of a cesarean birth alone usually is twice that of a vaginal birth.)
If you are thinking about cesarean delivery, carefully consider the risks and benefits for your baby and yourself. Make a list of your questions and have a serious discussion about your options with your health care provider.