C-Section Rate Reaches New Record

Skyrocketing number of cases stirs debate.

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Despite enormous efforts by health experts to promote the benefits of natural childbirth, the rate of Cesarean sections continues to soar, The New York Times reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report last week reporting that the C-section rate rose 53 percent from 1996 to 2007, reaching 32 percent, the highest rate ever reported in the United States. The CDC found that the pace of the increase accelerated during the 2000-2007 period.

C-sections account for nearly one-third of all U.S. births, making surgical deliveries the most common operation in U.S. hospitals, the Times reports.

According to the figures reported by the Times, the highest C-section rate was in New Jersey (38.3 percent) and the lowest was in Utah (22.2 percent). The U.S. has the highest C-section rate of all industrialized nations, but the CDC report notes that surgical deliveries are skyrocketing past 40 percent in China and developing Latin American countries.

The rising rate has been debated for years, with critics saying the operation is performed too often and needlessly; other experts insisting C-sections, when necessary, can save a mother and baby from injury and death, the Times reports.

A C-section may seem like the easier and safer way to give birth, but it can also be riskier for you and your baby if done for the wrong reasons. Although there are definite legitimate reasons for having a C-section, here our experts share with you why women should get the facts straight about this surgery before they voluntarily decide to go under the knife. Plus, our experts offer five ways to avoid having one.

If you do deliver your baby via surgery, check out our expert advice on recovering from a C-section to make those first days after baby arrives easier.

For an inside look at a real-life C-section, follow one of our own staff members in her C-section experience. A Fit Pregnancy contributing editor shared her feelings, photos and video of the day she gave birth to her twins via C-section. She couldn't have put it better: "I also knew I'd love my babies no matter how they arrived —naturally, C-section or FedEx 2Day."

Our Ask The Labor Nurse blogger comments about the recent report and why in her opinion the c-section rate keeps going up.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.