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Avoiding a Cesarean Section


Over the past three or four decades, we’ve seen a consistent increase in the percentage of births that have taken place via cesarean section. It’s estimated that around a third of all births today are done via cesarean section, which is quite a staggering number. In many cases, the C-section is recommended due to possible health concerns or complications of the pregnancy, and it’s important for the doctor and the mother to communicate clearly about whether a C-section will be performed and why.

There are a number of factors that will affect your chances of having a cesarean section birth, including:

  • Your doctor’s own personal philosophy or biases when it comes to cesarean section birth vs. vaginal birth
  • The birth setting
  • Your access to support during labor
  • What kinds of medical interventions take place during labor

Accordingly, if you want to do everything you can to avoid having a cesarean section, there are some things that you can to do help reduce your odds. Here are a few:

  • Pick a doctor who has low rates of cesarean deliveries. A doctor’s personal cesarean rate can vary widely, from as little as 10 percent of patients to as high as 50 percent of patients.
  • Design a birth plan that spells out your preferences, and that specifies exactly when you would be willing to consider a cesarean section birth.
  • Educate yourself. Take birthing classes, read all the information you can about labor and delivery on the web, read books, ask questions and generally arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can.
  • Make sure you have labor support. Some studies suggest that women who have continuous labor support may be as much as a quarter less likely to need a cesarean section delivery.
  • If possible, avoid an epidural. This kind of pain relief makes it much more likely that you will have trouble being able to deliver, which will increase the odds of a C-section.
  • If your baby is breech, talk to your doctor about options and recommendations for turning the baby.


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