Important Facts for Cesarean Delivery
DefinitionDelivery of infant from surgical incision into abdomen and through uterus (womb), rather than vaginal birth.
NumeratorNumber of cesarean deliveries for low risk women (singleton pregnancy, vertex presentation, 37 weeks or greater gestation).
DenominatorNumber of live births to low risk women (singleton pregnancy, vertex presentation at 37 weeks or greater gestation).
Data Interpretation Issues"Low risk" refers to women giving birth whose baby is term (37 weeks or greater), singleton (not a twin or other multiple-fetus pregnancy), and in the vertex or head down position. By framing the data in this way, eliminating higher risk pregnancies which are more likely to require cesarean delivery, we can more accurately reflect increases in cesarean rates for women who have the least medical likelihood of needing a surgical delivery. The newer 2003 birth certificate form was adopted for use in Utah beginning in 2009, which renders data from 2008 and earlier not comparable to data from 2009 and later.
Why Is This Important?The World Health Organization (WHO) defines normal birth as "...spontaneous in onset, low risk at the start of labor and remaining so throughout labor and delivery. The infant is born spontaneously in the vertex position between 37 and 42 completed weeks of pregnancy. After birth, mother and infant are in good condition." The aim of the care in normal birth is "to achieve a healthy mother and child with the least possible level of intervention that is compatible with safety. In normal birth, there should be a valid reason to interfere with the natural process." In 1970, the United States had a cesarean delivery rate of 5%. By 2006, nearly one-third (31%) of all children in the U.S. were born by cesarean delivery. This represents a 50% increase during the decade from 1996-2006 (from 20.7% in 1996). The increases are present in all age groups and for all races and ethnic origins, without identified concurrent sources of increased obstetrical risk. A controversial aspect of this discussion is cesarean delivery on maternal request (CDMR) at term for a singleton pregnancy in the absence of any medical or obstetrical indication. It is not possible to obtain a confident estimate of the rate of CDMR at this time. The increase in cesarean delivery is an issue of importance for all women, but even more so for first time mothers, as the trend is increasingly to schedule repeat cesareans for all subsequent births, once a woman has had one cesarean birth. This trend has implications not only for a woman's entire reproductive life, but also for infants and the entire health care system. Since a cesarean delivery entails major surgery for the mother, the following complications may occur (and occur often at a greater rate than for vaginal delivery): postpartum hemorrhage, infection, operative injury, thromboembolism, hysterectomy, anesthetic complications, placental problems in subsequent pregnancies (including placenta previa and accreta), postpartum depression, and increased risk of surgical complications in the presence of maternal obesity. Effects of cesarean delivery on the newborn may include difficulty with initiation of breastfeeding, prematurity and its sequelae, lacerations, and respiratory problems. Both mother and infant will experience longer and more costly hospital stays than after the normal vaginal delivery. Studies done over the past 35 years have supported the safety and advisability of VBAC (vaginal birth after previous cesarean) in certain groups of women: most women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low transverse uterine incision are candidates for a VBAC; these women should be counselled about their options, risks, and benefits, and offered a trial of labor after a previous cesarean (TOLAC). The risk of uterine rupture with TOLAC or VBAC in this group of candidates is 0.7-0.9%. The risk of uterine rupture doubles if the woman has had two or more prior cesarean deliveries. VBACs should take place in facilities with immediate access to surgical suites and operating room staff, obstetricians, pediatricians, and anesthesia services.
Healthy People Objective MICH-7.1:Reduce cesarean births among low-risk women with no prior cesarean births
U.S. Target: 23.9 percent
State Target: 16.7 percent