Trying to Avoid a Cesarean

Trying to Avoid a Cesarean

There has been a gradual increase in cesarean births over the past 30 years.

In November of 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

reported the highest rate ever recorded for the national cesarean birth

rate at 29.1% of all births. This means that more than a quarter of pregnant

women in the U.S.A. are likely to experience a cesarean delivery.

Key Factors in Considering Cesarean Birth:

Several key factors can influence the choice of a cesarean vs. vaginal

delivery. These factors include:

  • Choice of health care provider and their philosophyregarding cesarean birth
  • Birth setting
  • Access to labor support
  • Medical interventions during labor

Steps for Avoiding Cesarean Birth:

    • Find a health care provider and birth settingwith low rates of intervention
    • Ask the health care provider about their philosophyon cesareans and their cesarean rate (rates vary between 10-50%1nationally)
    • Create a flexible birthplanand discuss the plan with your health care provider
    • Become more educated about birth by taking childbirthclasses, reading books, and asking lots of questions.
    • Arrange for continuous labor support from a professional,like a doula. Studies show that womenwith continuous labor support are 26% less likely to have a cesarean2).
    • Explore options for coping with pain


  • Ask your health care provider about how long youcan delay going to the hospital once labor begins. A common reason forcesareans is prolonged labor at the hospital.
  • Avoid continuous electric fetal monitoring duringlabor. Studies show that EFM can increase the chance of cesarean by upto one-third3.
  • Avoid epidural analgesia if possible.
  • Ask for recommendations on turning a breech babyand actively attempt these if necessary.
  • Avoid induction if possible.
  • When in labor, find laboring and pushing positionsthat work for you to help labor progress.

What else you should know about Cesarean Birth:



1,2Maternity Center Association. What every

pregnant women needs to know about Cesarean section. New York: MCA,

April 2004.

3Thacker SB. Stroup DF. Peterson HB. Continuous

electronic fetal heart monitoring during labor. In Neilson JP et al.,eds.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Module of the Cochrane Database of Systematic

Reviews, updated June 1996.

Last Updated: 04/2006