How predominate is C-section delivery in the United States?
While the average percentage of babies delivered by C-section around the world is about 19%, in the US the rate has increased to almost 33%. It’s thought that improvements in fetal monitoring may be raising false alarms and triggering the C-section decision. There are also few standards or policies defining normal and abnormal labor experiences.
Why are C-sections done?
Vaginal deliveries are sometimes unsafe for the baby or the mother. When this situation arises, the baby is delivered through an incision in the abdomen and uterus. Some of the most common reasons for C-sections include:
- Labor isn’t progressing: when labor stalls due to reasons such as insufficient cervix dilation or a baby whose head is too big to pass through the birth canal
- Heart or oxygen irregularities: if the baby’s heartbeat changes or oxygen supply is diminished
- Abnormal fetal position: breech or transverse fetal positions prevent vaginal birth
- Problems with the umbilical cord or placenta
- Mother’s medical problems: such as heart problems or high blood pressure, or to prevent passing on an infection such as HIV or genital herpes
- Previous C-section delivery: In some cases, subsequent births may be easier through another C-section
Are there risks associated with C-section delivery?
Recovery from a C-section birth is longer than with vaginal birth, since it’s a surgical procedure. C-sections present risks to both mother and baby.
Risks to the child include:
- Breathing issues: C-section babies have increased risk of abnormally fast breathing at birth and other respiratory disorders
- Injury during surgery: the baby could be cut during the C-section incision, though this is rare
Risks to the mother include:
- Infection and inflammation of the outer membrane of the uterus, called endometritis
- Blood loss
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Wound infections
- Damage to nearby organs
- Increased risk to future pregnancies