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Reducing C-Sections and Women's Health: What You Should Know

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health


Reducing C-Sections Graphic

For some first-time mothers, the choice to have their baby delivered surgically by cesarean section (C-section) for nonmedical reasons can pose more risks than benefits.

C-sections are intended to prevent injury and death in women who are at higher risk of complicated deliveries or have unexpected complications, says Nancy Travis, R.N., Director of Women and Neonatal Services at Lee Health’s Women Care Center.

“C-sections can also prevent injury and death in their newborns. But C-sections are linked to increased risk of infections and blood clots, and many women who aren’t at higher risk for delivery complications get unnecessary C-sections,” Nancy says.

“There’s much evidence to support that primary, or first-time, C-sections in the U.S. don’t lead to healthier maternal outcomes. Our commitment toward ensuring a mother and her baby’s safety and comfort is a significant reason behind our participation in the PROVIDE initiative.”

PROVIDE, short for Promoting Primary Vaginal Deliveries, is an initiative of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC), a group of professionals dedicated to advancing perinatal healthcare.

(More specifically, low-risk, first-birth cesarean rate represents the percentage of cesarean deliveries among first-time mothers delivering a single baby in a head-down position after 37 weeks gestational age. The technical term for this measure is the nulliparous, term, singleton, vertex (NTSV) cesarean birth rate.)

“The PROVIDE Initiative aims to improve maternal and newborn outcomes by implementing evidence-based strategies to promote primary vaginal deliveries at Lee Health and other Florida delivery hospitals,” Nancy explains. “Our nurses, midwives, and physicians are all in this together. Our goal is to safely reduce primary C-sections rates for low-risk pregnancies.”

The economics of C-sections

There’s the matter of economics, as well, for safely reducing primary C-sections.

Costs associated with the procedure are significant for insurers, the government, taxpayers, and consumers. Studies have shown each C-section costs $5,000 to $10,000 more than a vaginal birth. Based on Florida reports, maternal hospital cost savings for each Medicaid and private insurance cesarean delivery runs about $4,000.

Primary cesarean deliveries have been a significant factor behind the increasing C-section rates in the past two decades.

The concerning trend sparked the Department of Health and Human Services to set a national goal of reducing the number of C-sections among low-risk women with no prior births by 23.6% over the next year. This figure doesn’t include C-sections considered necessary for the health of the mother or the baby.

Cape Coral Hospital

But the task of lowering primary C-section births remains considerable, not only in Florida but across the country. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, babies born via C-section delivery rose to 32.1% in 2021, up from 31.8% in 2020.

In Florida, 1 out of 4 women are having an unnecessary C-section.

At Lee Health Cape Coral Hospital, the rate is lower—1 out of 5—an impressive rate considering that nationally, the rate is 1 out of 3 women. That’s a coup for the Cape Coral Hospital’s maternity services, Nancy says.

“Our reduced C-section rate at our hospital is incredible, considering the goal is 23.6%,” Nancy says. She cites patient education and specialized care services that support women and their babies during labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum. 

“We do perform C-sections for women who need them, of course,” Nancy adds. “But we’re trying to prevent that first C-section if it’s unnecessary to prevent later complications.”

Family Birth Suites – Cape Coral

The Family Birth Suites at Cape Coral Hospital and HealthPark Medical Center are recognized by Baby-Friendly USA for excellence in care for ensuring a mother and her baby’s safety and comfort during labor, delivery, and recovery.

Studies show giving moms more time and support during labor can improve their chances of delivering vaginally.

“The nurses play a huge part in supporting the patient through labor, and we are very proud of our nursing staff. They have been on staff with us for so long it’s like a family up there,” Dr. Wykes says.

Birth Centers at Cape Coral Hospital and HealthPark Medical Centers

Are You Expecting?

Lee Health offers education through YoMingo, a program that provides convenient access to valuable information. It includes the tools and support for every stage of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

YoMingo gives you access to:

  • Evidence-based education on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and newborn care
  • Information specific to your arrival and stay at Cape Coral Hospital or HealthPark Medical Center
  • Community health resources
  • List of available classes and support groups
  • Pregnancy milestones
  • Kick counter
  • Contraction timer
  • Feeding log
  • Personal journal

To sign up for this education, click here.

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