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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

C-section Rate Jumps to 31.8% in U.S., 26.2% in MN

For Immediate Release

Cesarean Rate Jumps to Record High; 1 in 3 Pregnant Women Face Surgical Delivery

More Women Forced into Surgery; Few Mothers Recognize They Can Reduce Their Risk of Surgery

Redondo Beach, CA, March 18, 2000 – The National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the cesarean rate hit an all‐time high in 2007, with a rate of 31.8 percent, up two percent from 2006.

“Every pregnant woman in the U.S. should be alarmed by this rate,” said Pam Udy, president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). “Half or more of cesareans are avoidable and over‐using major surgery on otherwise healthy women and babies is taking a toll.”

A major driver of cesarean overuse is underuse of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). The VBAC rate currently hovers around 8 percent, far lower than the Healthy People 2010 goal of 37 percent. Driving this decline is the growing practice of hospitals banning VBAC.

In February, ICAN released the results of a new survey showing a startling increase in the number of hospitals banning VBAC. The survey showed a near triple increase (174%) from November 2004, when ICAN conducted the first count of hospitals forbidding women from having a VBAC. In 2004, banning hospitals numbered 300. The latest survey, conducted in January 2009, counted 821 hospitals formally banning VBAC and 612 with “de facto” bans.1 Full results of the research can be seen at http://www.ican‐‐ban‐info. Between formal and de facto bans, women are not able to access VBAC in 50% of hospitals in the U.S.

Research has consistently shown that VBAC is a reasonably safe choice for women with a prior cesarean. According to an analysis of medical research conducted by Childbirth Connection, a well‐respected, independent maternity focused non‐profit, in the absence of a clear medical need, VBAC is safer for mothers in the current pregnancy, and far safer for mothers and babies in future pregnancies.2 While VBAC does carry risks associated with the possibility of uterine rupture, cesarean surgery carries life‐threatening risks as well.

“The choice between VBAC and elective repeat cesareans isn’t between risk versus no risk. It’s a choice between which set of risks you want to take on,” said Udy.

Studies from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal–Fetal Medicine Units Network, one most recently published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, demonstrate that repeated cesareans can actually put mothers and babies at greater clinical risk than repeated VBACs.3

In October 2008, Childbirth Connection released a report called “Evidence‐Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve,” 4 showing that the state of maternity care in the U.S. is worrisome, driven largely by a failure of care providers to heed evidence‐based care practices. For most women in the U.S., care practices that have been proven to make childbirth easier and safer are underused, and interventions that may increase risks to mothers and babies are routinely overused. The authors of the report point to the “perinatal paradox” of doing more, but accomplishing less.

“All pregnant women are faced with important choices in their pregnancies. It is critical for women to understand what their choices are, and learn to spot the red flags that can lead to an unnecessary or avoidable cesarean,” said Udy.

Women who are seeking information about how to avoid a cesarean, have a VBAC, or are recovering from a cesarean can visit www.ican‐ for more information. In addition to more than 90 local chapters nationwide, the group hosts an active on‐line discussion group that serves as a resource for mothers.

For women who encounter VBAC bans, ICAN has developed a guide to help them understand their rights as patients. The resource discusses the principles of informed consent and the right of every patient to refuse an unwanted medical procedure. The guide can be found at http://www.ican‐‐right‐refusewhat‐do‐if‐your‐hospital‐has‐banned-vbac‐q.

About Cesareans: When a cesarean is medically necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved. Potential risks to babies from cesareans include: low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory problems, and lacerations. Potential risks to women include: hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, surgical mistakes, re‐hospitalization, dangerous placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, unexplained stillbirth in future pregnancies and increased percentage of maternal death.

Mission statement: ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal‐child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean. There are 94 ICAN Chapters across North America, which hold educational and support meetings for people interested in cesarean prevention and recovery.

1. A “de facto” ban means that surveyors were unable to identify any doctors practicing at the hospital who would provide VBAC support.
2. Best Evidence: VBAC or Repeat C‐Section, Childbirth Connection
3. Mercer et al, Labor Outcome With Repeated Trials of Labor Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;VOL. 111, NO. 2, PART 1 Silver et al, Maternal Morbidity Associated With Multiple Repeat Cesarean Deliveries, Am J Obstet Gynecol 2006; VOL.107, NO. 6
4. Evidence‐Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two VBAC bills in Minnesota Senate

The following bills are under consideration in the Minnesota State Senate:

S.F. No. 1468, as introduced - 86th Legislative Session (2009-2010) Posted on Mar 11, 2009

1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to health; regulating hospital policies on cesarean section under certain
1.3circumstances;proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 144.

1.6A hospital licensed under sections 144.50 to 144.56 must not prohibit a pregnant
1.7woman from choosing a vaginal birth solely because the woman has previously undergone
1.8delivery by cesarean section.

S.F. No. 1469, as introduced - 86th Legislative Session (2009-2010) Posted on Mar 11, 2009

1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to health; prohibiting an individual health plan from refusing to issue
1.3coverage because of a previous cesarean delivery;amending Minnesota Statutes
1.42008, section 62A.65, subdivision 4.

1.6 Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 62A.65, subdivision 4, is amended to read:
1.7 Subd. 4. Gender rating prohibited. (a) No individual health plan offered, sold,
1.8issued, or renewed to a Minnesota resident may determine the premium rate or any other
1.9underwriting decision, including initial issuance, through a method that is in any way
1.10based upon the gender of any person covered or to be covered under the health plan. This
1.11subdivision prohibits the use of marital status or generalized differences in expected costs
1.12between principal insureds and their spouses.
1.13(b) No health carrier may refuse to initially offer, sell, or issue an individual health
1.14plan to a Minnesota resident solely on the basis that the individual had a previous cesarean

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cesaren Voices on KFAI - Sunday March 8th!

Kara, Heather and I have put together a radio program to air at 11:00am on KFAI on Sunday March 8th called "Cesarean Voices." Our show highlights our own cesarean and VBAC birth stories as well as the poetry of Suzanne Swanson, a local therapist and poet.

We hope the show will educate the public about the cesarean epidemic as well as the struggles so many of us face to give birth vaginally after cesarean. We also hope the show will communicate to women who have experienced traumatic birth that they are not alone - that we have a voice!

So, tune in Sunday at 11:00 on KFAI, 90.3 FM in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in St. Paul. If you are not in the Twin Cities, you can listen online at, click on "Listen Now." The show will also be available on KFAI's online archive if you miss it live.