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Are Doctors Over-Reliant on Cesarean Sections?


It is an age-old debate—are doctors performing too many cesarean sections, whether at the request of their patients or because it is easier to schedule a cesarean than to be woken up and have to drive to the hospital at 1:00 in the morning?  Added to this, some doctors may be risk-averse (to varying degrees) when they encounter problems during labor and delivery, and may opt for cesarean delivery to avoid permanent injuries to mother or child.

Cesarean Section Statistics

  • 1965: 5% cesarean sections (United States, first year statistics were kept)
  • 2010: 8% cesarean sections (United States)
  • 2013: 7% cesarean sections (United States)
  • 2013: 2,642,892 vaginal deliveries (United States)
  • 2013: 1,284,339 cesarean sections (United States)

Reasons for Increased Cesarean Deliveries

Of course, there are several legitimate reasons for the increase in cesarean sections.  In the past forty-five years, the average age of first-time mothers has increased from 21 to about 25.  This may not seem like a big jump, but it is an average, and mothers who give birth while over the age of 40 (technically “advanced maternal age”) are likewise increasing.  The older we get, the more physical problems we are likely to have, and that can make childbirth riskier.  Older deliveries also correspond with an increase in twins and multiple births, which are more likely to require cesarean delivery to protect the health of the babies.

Furthermore, with advances in electronic fetal monitoring and a better understanding of when a baby is in trouble, the increased cesarean section rate must be at least partly due to good medicine—we perform cesarean sections largely to prevent problems that would, statistically, increase if we allowed for more vaginal deliveries.

Risks of Cesarean Sections versus Vaginal Deliveries

Vaginal births statistically have a faster recovery and reduced rate of infection.

Lacerations are possible with a cesarean section, which can increase discomfort and the chance of infection.  It can also cause bleeding which, if uncontrolled, can lead to significant or permanent injury.

Contact Us

For more information on whether a cesarean section or a vaginal birth was appropriate for your delivery, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.

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