New birthing data was recently compiled from nearly 20,000 women from all over the world. Though countless studies have documented the well known rise in C-section deliveries, Dr. Agustina Mazzoni, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and her colleagues conducted the first meta analysis that actually examined women’s preference. They scoured over medical literature and found 38 different studies which comprised 19,403 women from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.
And though the percentages varied within each locale, the overall percentage of women who preferred a c-section to a vaginal deliver is a lot lower than some might think.
Fox News reported the story last week, and I found it very interesting, particularly in light of a recent post I had written about the rising rate of c-section deliveries. Just under one third of U.S. births are done via c-section. A U.S. News and World Report article that I quoted attributed the spike to reasons which ranged from “mother preferences to doctors’ fears of lawsuits.” The way it read, it lead the reader to believe that a high percentage of moms were actually requesting c-sections in lieu of vaginal deliveries, and thus might be a key reason for the spike.
But Dr. Mazzoni and her team found that only 15.6% of women are requesting c-sections. 29% of women who had given birth via c-section in the past opted for c-sections versus just 10% of women who had never delivered via c-section. Dr. Mazzoni emphasized that her study looked at women’s stated preferences, not what actually transpired, thus the actual rates of c-section resulting from a mother’s request cannot be inferred.
But, Dr. Mazzoni notes that “although cesarean section on demand has been suggested as a relevant factor for the increasing cesarean section rates, it seems unlikely that this explains the high cesarean section rates in some countries and regions.”
So why is the rate so high? Danielle Sullivan wrote a piece about Dr. Lisa Umholtz, an OB/GYN who has been giving her patients the choice for a decade. “Just in the last 10 years, we’ve been giving people that option; if they want to go straight to the c-section they can,” Dr. Umholtz said.
Do you think such doctors are inadvertently encouraging women to opt for c-sections? Or is the high rate to be attributed to something else? Let us know what you think.