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A Surprising And Effective Tool For Reducing Your Risk Of A C-Section

If you are wanting to avoid giving birth via surgery – I have a quick a simple trick you can use to improve the odds of giving birth naturally – or without surgery.

Though c-sections are sometimes the right choice, many of the moms I work with are actively trying to avoid a surgical birth. They want this because they do not want to be recovering from surgery at the same time they are learning to care for their little one. And they want a vaginal birth because the birth experience itself matters to them, among other reasons.

In a word where moms are 500x more likely to have a C-section than moms in the 1970s, you may be wondering if there is anything you can or should do to prevent a surgical birth.

Well- there is one thing that you can do that makes a gigantic difference. In fact, OBGYN Dr. Neel Shah claims that “the hospital where a woman gives birth may be the single most important factor in whether or not she has a C-section.”

So one of your most important jobs is picking the place you deliver.

But, how do you know if you’ve chosen the right hospital? You are just about to find out.

And don’t worry, it won’t take you more than 5 minutes.

A Powerful Tool To Reduce Your Odds For Having An Unnecessary C-Section

The truth is that the soaring c-section rates have many causes. Including the way we as women take care of ourselves.

There are more mothers going into birth as high risk patients, who are older, overweight and already suffering from chronic illness when compared to women giving birth generations ago.

However, many researchers conclude that neither the women going into birth, nor their health, are not the root cause of the exploding c-section rates – they claim the root of the problem is poor systems and structures to support birthing women.

Many women believe that all birthing locations are the same and the outcome and support they expect at any of them will be about equal. This is not the case at all.

Here’s why. 

When we look at only healthy, low risk women, C-sections rates are completely different in hospitals that focus on reducing C-section rates and those that don’t. 

In fact, in the best hospitals, only 7% of healthy low risk women have C-sections. In the worst hospitals? Over 70% of healthy low risk women have C-sections. 

The Difference Between C-Section Rates, By Hospital

In this chart, a pink icon represents a mom who gave birth vaginally, while a black icon represents a person who gave birth through surgery.

You can see when you look at this comparison between the best hospital and the worst, that it matters where you give birth.

This means that you as a mother have a very important decision to make when it comes to WHERE you give birth.

We know that EDUCATION is good. Yet, at the same time, there are better and worse schools. Your choice of school can affect your future. The same is true for birthing locations.

Having a medical team around you is VERY important. But, it’s your job to find the BEST care for you.

I am going to show you how to do private detective level research on your hospital. 

Ok, I kid, you don’t have to be a private detective to do this, and the information is public. Not to mention, it will take you 5 minutes or less. 

Let’s get started. 

How To Find My Local C-Section Rates By Hospital

Not every hospital has made their c-section rates public information. However, most have. And finding the c-section rates for the hospital near you is easier than ever.

Yes, you can find this information in less than 5 minutes flat.

Here is what you are going to do:

1. Click this link to LeapFrog Group’s hospital search. This will open the largest database of United States Hospital ratings.

2. In the search by tabs, click the option that says location. Enter your zip code.

3. A list of hospitals will show up with the nearest ones to you at the top.

Now – this is where it gets a bit tricky. You cannot compare each hospital side by side. You have to look at each hospital individually. But don’t worry, it’s a quick and easy process!

4. Scroll through the list of hospitals until you see the hospital you are considering. Click the green button that says View Hospital Ratings.

5. When the hospital information shows up, you need to scroll down to look through the green bullet points. Look for the one that say +Maternity Care. Click on it.

6. Once the Maternity Care Tab opens cesarean sections will be the first category. You now need to click the ORANGE words saying Show More On This Hospitals Performance and it will show you that specific hospitals c-section rates .

7. On the right, there is a green bar showing how close to Leapfrog’s standards the hospital has come. (Only 20% of hospitals meet their high standards, if you found one, celebrate!)

Click through several hospitals in your area to get a good idea of what hospital has you as their top priority.

What If You Are Planning Or Considering An Out Of Hospital Births?

Many moms today are choosing out of hospital births, either at home, or in a birth center. Though it may be a surprise to some, research shows that births that are both intended to be at home and attended to by a qualified midwife are just as safe for low risk women as hospital births. Please note – this is very different than accidentally giving birth at home because labor was too quick or a woman was unable to get to the hospital.

However, there is not a public database for c-section rates for home birth or birth centers. You will need to ask your midwife directly to get this information.

Should you choose a hospital or out of hospital birth? That is a very personal decision. Some moms feel more at ease at the hospital because there are tools and experts at every corner, not to mention the option of an epidural! Others feel uncomfortable and awkward in the hospital and prefer the intimacy and quiet of their own home or a birth center.

Either way, choosing a midwife for primary care (for low risk moms) in itself, does reduce the chances of giving birth via surgery. While high risk moms benefit from the extra tools and resources an OB tends to prefer.

Are There More Ways To Protect Yourself From An Unnecessary C-Section?

I have been to many surgical births that are beautiful, powerful beginnings for a family, But, avoiding an unnecessary c-section is a worthy goal. And one you should be supported in if it’s important to YOU. Choosing your care provider and birth location are two of the most important decision you will make when are trying to avoid a c-section. But, it is not the only thing you can do.

When it comes to avoiding a c-section, there are several things you can do after choosing a high quality birth location.

1. Take Care Of Your Nutrition

Many people are surprised to find out that many pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (pregnancy related high blood pressure), preterm birth, and waters breaking early are often closely related to nutrition.

Understanding the unique nutritional needs of the childbearing year can help you avoid or manage complications that can add extra difficulties to your birth.

If you do have a more complicated medical history, it may be worth it to speak with a prenatal nutritionist. But, to learn the basics, you can also check out our free guides to an ideal pregnancy diet, and the best food for pregnancy. You can explore the question ‘are prenatal vitamins necessary?

These guides should help you understand the basics of prenatal nutrition.

We also have extensive support around prenatal nutrition inside of our birth class.

2. Exercise And Take Care Of Your Body

Exercising during pregnancy has a never ending list of benefits for you and baby. Not only do you get a mood boost, but moms who exercise report less back pain, leg pain and swelling. They sleep better. They also have reduced risk for both gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

And you know what? Studies have shows that moms who exercise regularly throughout pregnancy are less likely to give birth via surgery as well.

For most pregnancies, mild to moderate physical activity benefits mom and won’t negatively affect her baby.

According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, spread throughout the week.

We have a very simple and effective Prehab routine inside our birth course. But, if you are looking for a more thorough exercise program, check out Every Mother or the pregnancy programs. We also love several of the programs Bodi has created and run a self care through motion support group for moms that want to use these pilates and barre inspired classes to strengthen their pregnant and postpartum self.

Both of these options will help you prepare your body for birth!

3. Take A Childbirth Class

The International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology also published research showing that moms who attended a childbirth class were less likely to have a c-section or need a vacuum extraction.

So, if you are hoping for a vaginal birth, natural or with an epidural, but are anxious or worried about your chances of actually having one… One impactful step you can take is to enroll in a high quality childbirth class. This simple action sets you on a path for an easier and safer birth.

The good news is that taking a childbirth class gives you knowledge and skills that actually reduce your risk of needing interventions: 

  • Reduced use of epidurals
  • Lower use of vacuum extraction
  • Lower risk of cesarean delivery

Of course – we would love to have you inside the She Births Bravely Birth Class. If you want to prepare with us – find out more here!

TL/DR C-Section Rates By Hospital

Avoiding an unnecessary C-section is a worthy goal, and one that may take some planning and effort. Not every hospital is the same. In fact C-section rates by hospital vary from 7% to 70% for healthy, low risk women. That is a HUGE difference.

Many women do not believe the location of their birth matters when it comes to their birth. The research shows that it does.

A mother can protect and advocate for herself by first, finding out the C-section rates by the hospitals near her. Choosing a hospital that has a lower C-section rate if possible and learning skills and tools that will help her get through labor.

You can look up C-section rates by hospital at ratings.leapfroggroup.org

On the other hand, surgical birth is right for many moms. If you are going into a surgical birth – check out our favorite c-section affirmations to get you started. You will find an entire resource list for creating and healing after surgery at the bottom of that post as well.


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Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN, S. (2020, July 6). The importance of physical activity during pregnancy. The Importance of Physical Activity during Pregnancy. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/the-importance-of-physical-activity-during-pregnancy

Owe KM;Nystad W;Stigum H;Vangen S;Bø K; (2016, August 23). Exercise during pregnancy and risk of cesarean delivery in nulliparous women: A large population-based cohort study. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27555317/

Ohad Gluck,Tally Pinchas-Cohen,Zvia Hiaev,Hanny Rubinstein,Jacob Bar,Michal Kovo. (2020, January 7). The impact of childbirth education classes on delivery outcome. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijgo.13016

Levett, K. M., Smith, C. A., Bensoussan, A., & Dahlen, H. G. (2016, July 1). Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: A randomised controlled trial of Antenatal Integrative Medicine for Pain Management in labour. BMJ Open. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/7/e010691

Rebecca A. Gourevitch MS,Ateev Mehrotra MD, MPH,Grace Galvin MPH,Melinda Karp MBA,Avery Plough BA,Neel T. Shah MD, MPP. (2017, January 26). How do pregnant women use quality measures when … – Wiley Online Library. How do pregnant women use quality measures when choosing their obstetric provider? Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/birt.12273

Eileen K. Hutton, Angela Reitsma, Julia Simioni, Ginny Brunton, Karyn Kaufman. Perinatal or neonatal mortality among women who intend at the onset of labour to give birth at home compared to women of low obstetrical risk who intend to give birth in hospital: A systematic review and meta-analyses. EClinicalMedicine, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.07.005

Hanahoe, M. (2020, March 31). Midwifery-led care can lower caesarean section rates according to the Robson Ten Group Classification System. European journal of midwifery. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7839114/