C-section rates released

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Cesarean sections are more common than ever in the U.S. But the rate of C-sections varies dramatically between hospitals—and can be as high as 35 percent ...

... only about 5 percent of C-sections are true emergencies. Another 3 percent are elective, meaning there’s no medical reason to have one. The rest fall into a murky area: the mother plans a vaginal birth but is past her due date, labor isn't progressing as quickly as everyone would like and the baby is growing larger ...

Factors contributing to the increased number of C-sections include older moms-to-be ... heavier pregnant women ... and a rise in induced labor, which increases the chance a woman will need a C-section.

Technology, such as recording the fetal heart rate, also plays a role: Skittish doctors are more likely to play it safe and perform major abdominal surgery if there’s any hint of trouble.

C-sections can be lifesaving, but research suggests they’re associated with extra risks in comparison with vaginal birth. New moms experience more physical problems, longer recovery ... and more emotional issues. Babies are born by cesarean are less likely to be breastfed and more likely to experience breathing problems at birth and asthma as they get older.

Healthy People 2010, the Centers for Disease Control’s national health campaign, is working to lower the C-section rate to 15 percent among low-risk women giving birth for the first time.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448