C-Section Rates on the Rise: What's Happening in Your State

c-sectionDue to what seemed like a large home birth and natural birth movement, it almost felt like there was going to be a shift in how we birth our babies. Less intervention; only when it was absolutely necessary. But the latest information isn't just depressing, it's terrifying. The preliminary CDC stats for 2012 births are out and so far it's showing no change in the number of c-sections in America from 2011. The rate seems to be holding steady at an alarming 32.8 percent. However, some states have rates that have risen to an unacceptable level, like Louisiana, which has 40.2 percent of mothers undergoing a c-section. This is the first American state to rise to 40. The World Health Organization recommends a cesarean rate of no more than 10 percent; anything above 15 percent is believed to more harm than good. 

This is an epidemic. This is a problem. This isn't something we should just accept. This puts mothers and babies at an unnecessary risk.


These are the facts: The number of maternal deaths are rising and it's because of our rising rates of cesareans. A breech birth doesn't have to mean c-section. Babies can be maneuvered in the womb so the position is more favorable. Multiples can be born naturally. C-section rates vary from 7 to 70 percent among hospitals because of the way doctors practice, not because of requests by mothers. This needs to stop.

There is not one US state even close to the recommended under 10 percent. Take a look at the preliminary data.


Alaska has the second lowest c-section rate at 23.4 percent. Still way above the 15 percent the WHO believes is unsafe.

It's hard to look at that 40.2 percent for Louisiana. I can't help but feel there is a definite failure in our health system for women. Nevada also had one of the larger jumps from 33.8 in 2011 to 35 percent in 2012. Montanta was worse, rising from 29.5 to 31.2.

Utah has the lowest percent of c-sections of all states at 22.6 percent. Included here is also Puerto Rico, who jumped over 2 percent from 46.7 to 48.5. Nearly half of women undergo cesareans there.

I know firsthand that there are times when a c-section is absolutely necessary. And I'm thankful for the skills doctors have to deliver babies in that way. But I fear too many doctors are worried about too many outside factors and not trusting a woman's ability to vaginally birth a child. We do live in a society where things are done in a more automatic and assisted kind of way -- everything from elevators to soap dispensers that work just from waving your hand under them shows we create things to do things for us that we can do ourselves. But this should never be something we automatically do with birth, with how we bring life into this world. It's too important. It's life.

I'll be looking out for the final numbers on this, but with these early findings, it's very worrisome.

Are you surprised by the stats for your state?

Image via isafmedia/Flickr

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