C-Sections Still Under Great Scrutiny

By Kristine Hartvigsen on April 5th, 2017

Notwithstanding efforts to reduce medically unnecessary cesarean sections, little has changed statistically in the past year. In the United States, on average, about 1 in 3 women still delivers her baby by C-section.

Most often, the reason cited for performing a C-section is failed progression of labor. Other indications include previous cesarean and abnormal fetal heart rate tracing. However, unnecessary or scheduled C-sections sometimes can be attributed to convenience or even defensive medicine.

New research suggests that the hospital, the design of the L&D unit where a mother delivers, and the type of insurance she carries can impact her likelihood of undergoing a C-section. Facilities that are short on space or available rooms might be prone to C-sections in order to move patients faster.

Ideally, healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be allowed to labor naturally — for many hours if needed — to a vaginal birth. Interestingly, a study released in March suggests that an increased dose of IV fluids during low-risk labor can reduce the likelihood for C-section and even shorten the length of labor by about an hour. Women generally receive IV fluids at 125 ml. per hour during labor. The researchers found improved results when a faster rate of 250 ml. per hour was administered. The presence of an OB/GYN hospitalist onsite around the clock supports the desirable natural progression of labor.

C-sections can put both the mother and baby at higher risk for complications. For the mother, the procedure increases the risk of bleeding, anesthesia complications, and blood clotting. Women who have had C-sections tend to be hospitalized longer and must be monitored for signs of infection at the incision site. Additionally, infants born by C-section have an increased risk for breathing and circulation problems.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month. It is important that expectant women ask their doctors early on about C-sections and what is involved with them so that, while attempting vaginal delivery, they may be fully informed and prepared ahead of time if an emergency C-section becomes necessary.

This article provides general information and discussion about healthcare-related subjects. The content and linked materials provided are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader is an expectant mother with a medical concern, she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare provider.


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