Over the past 30 years there has been a gradual increase of cesarean births, in which a baby is removed through an incision in the woman’s abdominal wall rather than through the vagina, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
A cesarean birth, typically known as a c-section, is a procedure in which a surgeon makes an incision in the abdominal wall and uterus to remove a baby from the mother. The average c-section takes 45 minutes to an hour. Having epidural analgesia or being induced into labor increase the chances of c-section.
While most c-sections in the past were conducted under extreme circumstances to save the life of the mother and/or child, today the procedure is becoming increasingly popular among more affluent women, who are choosing elective c-sections.
Elective c-sections are planned by both the obstetrician and the expecting mother, and occur prior to labor. These surgeries are usually not medically necessary, or are strongly suggested due to complication. Some women even request to have a “tummy tuck” following a C-section delivery.
The growth of c-section birth, both non-elective and elective, is recorded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC has reported that the national rate of c-section delivery rose by 53 percent from 1996 to 2007, reaching 32 percent – the highest rate ever reported in the United States at that time.
According to the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, a study conducted in The Netherlands shows that any woman can find an obstetrician willing to conduct a c-section without a medical basis. The study also shows willingness to perform elective c-sections increases with the age of the doctor.
In addition, c-sections are typically more expensive than vaginal births. For those with health insurance, a c-section may only cost a few hundred dollars more than a vaginal birth. However, it may be worth considering that health insurance providers are covering a surgery that is becoming more of an elective – trendy, even – procedure rather than what is medically necessary.
For those without health insurance, vaginal births can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. C-sections could cost an additional $2,000.
Most doctors agree that avoiding any unnecessary surgery during childbirth is best for both mom and baby. Finding a hospital or birth setting with low rates of intervention can help women reduce their risk of having a c-section. Even so, expecting mothers – or future mothers for that matter – are advised to research the birthing process to better understand what is best for her body and her baby.
Studies show that women with labor support, such as that provided by doulas, reduce the changes of having a C-section by more than 25 percent. Doulas are hired by pregnant women to help “mother” her through the birthing process, providing physical and emotional support. For more information about doulas, visit http://www.dona.org.