Ever Wonder About the Cesarean Rate for a Hospital Near You?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did very little research. I mean, people have babies every day, right? My mom birthed all of her children naturally, so I just assumed that all I had to do was pack a bag and show up. But, being true to my type A personality, I did just a bit of research. I went online and found a “10 things to ask your provider” checklist. Armed with my handy dandy notebook and the naiveté of some first time moms, I scheduled my first appointment with my OB. I asked my doctor what her cesarean rate was and when she replied 50%, I really didn’t even know what that meant. I didn’t know that her personal rate of surgery could/would impact my outcome. And, in the wee hours of the morning, Mother’s Day 2007, just before my doc’s shift was up, I was informed that baby wasn’t progressing and it was time for a cesarean. I didn’t know what the numbers meant back then but now I do. And, I’d like to share it with you.

Cesarean rates differ from hospital to hospital with some as low as 7% and others closer to 75%, some even a whopping 100%! The national cesarean average is a little over 30% (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db124.htm) and, while the statistics show that the numbers may not be increasing at the same rate as they have in the past 10 years, this national average is still alarmingly high. If you talk with your care provider and discover that their cesarean rate is at or higher than the national average, you have to stop and ask yourself, “Is this provider offering the kind of care I’m looking for?” I look back on my 50/50 chances of having my baby vaginally and I see that the odds were against me. I didn’t think it could happen to me just like you didn’t think it would happen to you. There is no shame in not knowing but there is power in education. You may find it useful to check out this compiled list of hospitals in your state and just see what kind of rates the hospital near you is reporting. Just click on the link for your state then click on the image at the bottom to go to the full pdf.


The cesarean rate for the hospital I gave birth in for my first child is 38% and the rate for the hospital where I had my Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) is 41%. These numbers are not surprising given my experiences with these hospitals. I would love to hear your comments about the cesarean rate of your local hospital and your thoughts on the subject.

And, while we are on the subject of hospitals and cesareans, let’s talk a bit about hospitals and VBAC. Did you know that ICAN is the only organization to have compiled a list of hospitals and their VBAC policies? Our team of amazing volunteers called hospitals in every state across the country and surveyed Labor and Delivery wards to find out which hospitals had VBAC bans. This survey found that approximately 30% of hospitals in America have official policies banning VBACs.  You can see the entire database of information collected here:


As with cesarean rates for your doctor and hospital, it is really important to know your own hospital’s VBAC policy, before you go into labor. You may have a doctor that says they are supportive of your VBAC only to discover that what you consider “support” may not be the same idea of “support” that your doctor had in mind. Sometimes, a frank discussion can help clear up any misunderstandings and sometimes, a change in care provider might be in order. All in all, trust your instincts, and if you feel that your provider is not on board, find one that is. Your reproductive health is more important than any discomfort caused by changing care providers.

Have any of you had experience with a care provider paying lip service to your desire to VBAC but not actually supporting you when the time came? How about providers that went above and beyond to help you reach your goals?


Jennika Cook, ICAN blogger

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