Cesarean delivery is associated with more complications for both mother and baby. The United States has one of the highest cesarean delivery rates in the world. In 2009, almost one-third of U.S. deliveries were by cesarean. About one-quarter of women having their first baby will have a cesarean delivery. The rate of cesarean delivery has increased dramatically in the United States since 1996, especially for first-time mothers.
To help identify opportunities to safely reduce the rate of cesarean deliveries, researchers in the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research examined records from 19 hospitals across the country to assess the reasons for cesarean delivery among women having their first baby.
After reviewing more than 200,000 medical records, researchers found that the most common reasons for cesarean delivery were the failure of labor to progress, the baby’s heart rate, and the position of the baby (the baby’s head was not down near the birth canal).
For women having their first baby, failure of labor to progress was by far the most common reason for having a cesarean. This finding suggests that as long as the mother and baby are doing well during labor, waiting longer for labor to progress may help lower the rate of cesarean delivery (PMID: 23743454).