Risks Associated with Unnecessary C-sections

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2018, the cesarean (C-section) delivery rate in the United States decreased to 31.9% from 32.0% in 2017.

The World Health Organization recommends that the ideal c-section rate (country average) should be around 15%. When C-section rates in a country move towards 15%, there is a significant decrease in maternal and newborn deaths. When the rate goes over 15%, there is no evidence that death rates improve – therefore the risks outweigh the benefits. According to the CDC, in 2018, the U.S. C-section rate average was 31.9% with Michigan ranking 20th for the highest rate of C-sections among states at 32.1%

At times, emergency C-sections are needed to save the life of the mother and baby, such as dangerously high blood pressure (preeclampsia). Sometimes a C-section is the only safe option, like when the baby is breach, positioned side-to-side in the belly (transverse lie) or the placenta is covering the cervix (placenta previa).

Fewer attempts at vaginal delivery after a C-section (VBAC) may be another contributing factor to the high rate; however, the rate of VBAC’s has lowered in recent years. CLICK HERE to read about the facts and myths of VBAC.

The hospital you choose may increase your chance of the c-section. CLICK HERE to discover if your hospital puts you at a higher risk for a C-section.

Please take into consider the additional risks you pose on yourself and your baby when you opt for an elective C-section.

Possible C-section complications:

  • Mistaken surgical cut to the mother
  • Mistaken surgical cut to the baby
  • Urgent hysterectomy
  • Thromboembolic events (blood clots)
  • Anesthetic complications
  • Major infection
  • Surgical site infections
  • Hematoma
  • Wound disruption
  • Increased length of hospital stay
  • Hospital readmission
  • Problems with physical recovery including general health, bodily pain, extreme tiredness, sleep problems, bowel problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and ability to perform strenuous activities
  • Chronic pelvic pain

Babies born via C-section have an increased risk of:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Troubles with breastfeeding

For additional information check out The Leapfrog Group report on C-section rates.