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Health Team

Number of unnecessary C-sections rising in US, researchers say

Posted June 7

Roughly one in three babies born in the U.S. are delivered by Cesarean section, but medical researchers say about half of those aren't medically necessary.

Colleen Scott's pregnancy was considered low-risk, so she planned to have a vaginal delivery with her first child.

That's not what happened.

"The decision was made by the doctor on call that it doesn't look like the baby is going to come out naturally, and it seems like the best solution would be to do the C-section," Scott said.

Situations like Scott's are happening more often than it used to.

Number of unnecessary C-sections rising in US, researchers say

Sometimes doctors or hospitals may rush a C-section simply because they think labor has gone on long enough.

"Your biggest risk of having an unnecessary C-section could actually be the hospital where you choose to give birth," said Consumer Reports' Lauren Friedman.

To reduce your risk of an unnecessary C-section, Consumer Reports offers some suggestions.

"One thing you can do is check-out our free hospital ratings online," Friedman said.

Consumer Reports' ratings lets expecting mothers compare hospitals based on how often they perform C-sections for low-risk cases.

Consumer Reports also says if you have a low- to moderate-risk pregnancy, think about using a midwife. They don't do surgery and they'll only transfer you to a doctor if it's medically necessary.

Also, don't rush to the hospital. Instead, talk to you doctor or midwife about the criteria about the best time for you to go to the hospital.

Once you're at the hospital, don't rush to induce labor, either.

"On its own, there's not necessarily a problem with a long labor as long as both mom and baby are doing OK," Friedman said.

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  • Josha Barton Jun 8, 9:17 a.m.
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    I had my son back in 2002 by C-section. The doctor said it was a risk because my water had been broke for more than 24 hours and that alone imposed a health risk. Maybe this is why long labors usually equal c sections.