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Pregnancy & Birth

The Skyrocketing Rate of Cesarean Sections

The rate of cesarean deliveries in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years; in 2010, 32.8 percent of women who gave birth had cesarean section deliveries.1

Many factors contribute to this rise, including the failure of hospitals to support normal physiologic labor, providersí fear of malpractice suits, the increasing tendency of hospitals to induce labor and use electronic fetal monitoring, the myth that cesarean sections are safer than vaginal birth, and a lack of awareness of the harms that are more likely with cesarean sections. For an excellent analysis of why the cesarean rate has skyrocketed, see Childbirth Connectionís Why Is the National U.S. Cesarean Section Rate So High?

Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit maternity care education and advocacy organization, offers the most accurate and up-to-date information on the safety and efficacy of maternity care practices. Their booklet, What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section (last revised in 2012), is designed to help pregnant women understand the harms and benefits of cesarean delivery compared with vaginal birth. The booklet also offers advice on how to increase your chances of having a safe and satisfying vaginal birth.


1. Martin, Joyce A., M.P.H.  et al. "National Vital Statistics Reports. Births: Final Data for 2010." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 1.13.14 at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_01.pdf.

Written by: Our Bodies Ourselves contributors
Last revised: January 2014

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