Consumer Reports has today released groundbreaking hospital ratings by C-section rates, informing the public about which hospitals perform C-sections at higher rates than others for low-risk deliveries–that is, women who haven’t had a C-section before, don’t deliver prematurely, and are pregnant with a single baby who is properly positioned. 1 in 3 babies in the US are delivered surgically by a C-section — up 500% since 1970, making C-sections the second most commonly performed surgery. You can viewConsumer Reports’ C-section hospital ratings for free here.
Why should this concern you? Too many C-sections drive up health care costs and when unnecessary, increase risks for moms and babies. Life-threatening complications are rare whether babies are born vaginally or by C-section. But compared with women giving birth vaginally, healthy, low-risk women undergoing their first C-section were three times more likely to suffer serious complications—such as severe bleeding, blood clots, heart attack, kidney failure, and major infections. Sometimes C-sections are the safest delivery option, but many women are pressured by their doctors to have a C-section when there’s not a good medical reason.
The overuse of C-sections is not just a problem in the US. In private hospitals in Brazil, 82% of all babies are born by C-section, according to an article published in The Atlantic last month. In an example cited by The Atlantic, one Brazilian woman “was forced by police to deliver by C-section.” A small group of Brazilian protesters held a rally against “obstetric violence,” a powerful term.
From a patient safety standpoint, addressing the overuse of C-sections is a must, and lots of people are passionate about this issue. Just ask Jill Arnold (@Unnecesarean) who runs CesaraeanRates.com and a Facebook community of people who care about patient autonomy, data transparency and maternal health.
Several media outlets have covered Consumers Reports’ C-section investigation: