Cesarian section births in the United States increased 60% from 1996 to 2009. In 1996, c-section delivery accounted for about 21% of births and in 2009, the rate rose to 31%. There has been a big awareness campaign via the public campaigns of the March of Dimes and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to help decrease the c-section rate.
In addition, there is a widespread grassroots, consumer-led initiative by American women to modify the institution of how women birth. Such organizations as the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services (CIMS) and the BirthNetwork National, which has local state-centered chapters, have gathered together women, families and institutions to increase family-centered, evidence-based maternity care across the United States.
The consumer-led organizations wish to re-focus the United States’ general focus on institution-friendly policies during childbirth to family-centered policies. CIMS supports evidence-based practices, generally following the midwifery model of care, that will help decrease the maternal mortality rate in the United States and support the early mother-baby relationship. CIMS developed the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) over a three year period in the 1990’s. MFCI was a collaborative effort of many individuals and over 26 organizations focused on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. The MFCI is the first and only consensus document on U.S. maternity care. Hospitals, birth enters and home birth practices earn the coveted designation of “mother-friendly” from CIMS by following the “Ten Steps of Mother Friendly Care.”
The BirthNetwork National was founded as a resource for women to turn to regarding information about a mother-friendly birth. The organization believes a safe, mother-friendly birth can occur in a hospital, at a birth center or at home. The local chapters help educate women and families on their choices and evidence-based care.
The March of Dimes says that elective c-sections contribute to the rise of babies born in late prematurity (between 34 – 36 weeks). The March of Dimes notes that late preterm babies are usually considered healthy, but are more likely to have medical problems associated with breathing, feeding and maintaining body temperature, than those born at term. The MOD initiated an educational campaign called Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait to increase public awareness of the unnecessary risks of inducing labor early and/or early planned c-sections. Important information such as the sobering fact that a baby;s brain, at 32 weeks, weighs just 2/3 of what it does at 39 weeks.
The consumer groups urge women to be informed, to take control of this important aspect of life, as the childbirth is a unique experience with lasting emotional and physical memories.