Why C-Section Rates Are Rising

Happy mother with newborn baby

Cesarean deliveries are at an all-time high in the U.S. and are expected to keep increasing. Nearly one in three babies are now delivered surgically. While the procedure leads to better health outcomes for some mothers and infants who face serious risks during pregnancy and labor, many experts believe that C-sections are being over-performed. In many cases, C-section occurs when there is not a valid medical reason, putting healthy women and babies at unnecessary risk of complications of major surgery. A new study analyzed the factors that are leading to the increase in the C-section trend.

C-sections may be on the rise for a variety of reasons: the average age of the expectant mother is higher, the rising obesity rate among moms-to-be, an increase in multiple birth deliveries and an increase in induced labors. Additionally, because of some health reports warning of the dangers of attempting a vaginal delivery after a cesarean, there has also been a decrease in the number of women attempting vaginal deliveries for subsequent deliveries.

Researchers studied the birth records of roughly 32,000 babies born at one U.S. hospital from 2003 to 2009. Of those, 33.3 percent were born through C-section delivery. The data showed that factors that can be determined objectively (such as the orientation of the baby, umbilical cord and placental positions) have not increased in frequency and have not contributed to the rise in C-sections. However, subjective factors (like fetal heartbeat, labor arrest, size of the fetus, etc.) have increased in frequency, causing a marked spike in the number of C-sections performed.

Due to these subjective factors, some patients and doctors are opting to schedule c-section deliveries, making the childbirth process more convenient. An expectant mother’s impatience and discomfort in those last weeks of pregnancy may also lead to elective induction of labor. Women whose labor is induced are twice as likely to have a C-section delivery as those who experience spontaneous labor.

Today, moms-to-be have an increased influence in the medical choices involved with childbirth, which can be a blessing and a curse. While C-sections are generally considered safe, there are serious risks of complications such as blood loss and respiratory problems for both the mother and baby. Physicians and moms-to-be should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of a vaginal versus a Cesarean birth when possible.


  • My daughters friends (mid to late 30s) all want c sections over vaginal births as they don’t want vaginal stretching that may affect their sex life. I rarely hear this mentioned in articles but commonly hear it talked about among women.

  • Pregnancy journal affords a pregnant woman the means of recording her experience during those long nine months before she delivers the baby. Every woman goes through significant discomfort, pain, and emotional upheaval during her period of pregnancy. It brings a lot of physical changes in her body usually accompanied by pain of some sort. However, writing down the day- to-day account has been found to be of great help in making the pregnancy somewhat easy for the expectant mothers.

    Pregnancy Journal

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