A group of Florida doctors wants to reduce the number of women having babies by Cesarean section. They say unnecessary C-sections are putting women at risk.
Dr. Julie DeCesare is a member of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative.
She said, "What we've found with the C-section problem is that a lot of what we believed, has not necessarily been true."
Dr. DeCesare points out more women are dying in childbirth now than 10 years ago. She believes unnecessary C-sections are a major reason why.
In the 1970s, the C-section rate was between 5 percent and 7 percent. Now it's around 38 percent.
There are multiple factors driving up the percentage. One of them is convenience.
Dr. Decesare explained, "We are all planners. We want to choose our day, our time that we come in, have our family come into town and we have our baby on July 27 at 9 in the morning. That's an induction."
Inducing labor increases the likelihood of C-section by 50 percent. Dr. DeCesare said not only do Cesareans up the risk for accreta, a condition that can cause severe hemorrhage after delivery, they also carry a higher risk of infection and wound complications. Sacred Heart Hospital has now stopped doing convenience inductions, though they still induce when medically necessary.
Megan Bell had three children by Cesarean section. She now feels she got incomplete information from her doctors.
She wishes she had done more research on her own.
Bell said, "Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I think I probably would have made a different decision."
Megan Bell fought to deliver her youngest, 5-month old Brooks, in a vaginal birth. She said data showed the risk of a "vaginal birth after Cesarean" was less than the risk of another major abdominal surgery.
Three doctors told her "no" before she found Dr. Decesare.
Bell reflected, "If somebody has a religious belief about denying a blood transfusion or something of the like, then that is respected. But if I wanted to make the decision to say I don't consent to another surgical birth, I didn't find that was respected by many of the providers I saw in the beginning of my pregnancy."
Dr. DeCesare is part of the "Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative." They're starting a new initiative to get hospitals in Florida to protect women's health by promoting vaginal birth, especially with the first child.