The number of cesarean deliveries remains very high in the U.S. and Consumer Reports says many of them are unnecessary. It has analyzed data from more than 1,500 hospitals in the 22 states where data is available and found several where more than half the women who expect a low-risk delivery undergo a C-section.
For low-risk deliveries, Consumer Reports found that C-section rates ranged from less than five percent to more than 50 percent.
Low-risk deliveries are defined as: women who haven’t had a C-section before, don’t deliver prematurely, and are pregnant with a single baby who is properly positioned.
There are situations when a C-section is the safest option. But the vast majority of women who anticipate a low-risk delivery should expect to have a natural birth. Unnecessary C-sections drive up medical costs and increase risks for mothers and babies.
Consumer Reports says ask the person who will deliver your baby about the hospital’s C-section rates. In general the lower the rate the better. Definitely look for rates lower than the national average, which for low-risk deliveries is close to 18 percent.
You can find Consumer Reports’ advice for avoiding unnecessary C-sections here.