Locally, about 38% of mothers give birth by cesarean. Many moms worry that cesareans are being performed too often and that they and their babies are being unnecessarily exposed to the risks of having one. The World Health Organization says no hospital should have a cesarean rate higher than 15%. Researchers believe once the rate goes higher than that, more harm than good happens to mothers and babies.
If you want to lower your risk of having a cesarean, here are some steps to take:
- Find a doctor or midwife with a low cesarean rate. Care providers have different practice styles. Some routinely use interventions such as inducing or augmenting with pitocin. By choosing a provider who uses interventions only when needed, you lower your chance of having a cesarean.
- If you are uncomfortable with your care provider's practice style, you can switch providers. Even during labor, you may request a different doctor, midwife or nurse.
- Choose a birth location that has a low cesarean rate.
- Don’t be induced without a medical reason. Induction can double your chance of having a cesarean.
- Have continuous support during labor. Consider having a doula with you during labor.
- Use labor interventions wisely. Often one intervention will cause more to become necessary.
- Know that you have the right to Informed Consent for any procedure done during labor. This means your doctor or midwife should explain the benefits, risks and alternatives to any procedure. If they don't, you should ask about them. After learning the benefits, risks and alternatives, you have the right to consent to or refuse the procedure.
Want to find out your local hospital's cesarean rate?
Here is a list of cesarean rates for hospitals in Indiana on The Unnecesarean.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provides the cesarean rates for hospitals in Kentucky.
These are great resources to learn more about Cesareans and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
Download this handout on VBACs from the March 2011 EBN meeting.