Consumer Reports: How to avoid an unnecessary C-section

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Consumer Reports says the hospital you choose can increase your risk of having an unnecessary C-section. (WLS)

A new study finds the number of Cesarean deliveries remains very high in the U.S. despite many women's desire to have a non-surgical birth. Consumer Reports says the hospital you choose can increase your risk of having an unnecessary C-section.

READ: Chicago-area hospital ratings for avoiding C-sections

For the birth of her first child, Britney Archer, felt pressured to have a C-section. She was upset to later hear that both her doctor and hospital had a reputation for doing C-sections.

"I found out that the hospital she was working at was known as like 'the C-section hospital,'" Archer said.

Women who've had C-sections can find it takes longer to recover, and that it's more likely that any other children they have will also be delivered surgically. Consumer Reports looked into why so many women with low-risk first pregnancies end up having C-sections.

"We analyzed hospital data from across the country and found the biggest risk of having a C-section comes down to the hospital a woman has her baby in," said Doris Peter, Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

The target for C-sections from the Department of Health and Human Resources is under 24 percent for women with low-risk first pregnancies. But rates vary widely, even among hospitals in the same area. C-section rates in the Chicago area ranged from 13.8 percent to 31.1 percent.

Of the 13 hospitals in the Chicago area that publicly reported their data, three hospitals (Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Roseland Community Hospital, and Saint Anthony Hospital) received Consumer Reports' top rating for avoiding C-sections.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which reports the highest volume of births in the country, was the only hospital in the U.S. with more than 10,000 annual total births to receive Consumer Reports' top rating for avoiding C-sections.

Five hospitals in the Chicago area (Presence Resurrection Medical Center, Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, Presence Saint Joseph Hospital and John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County) received one of Consumer Reports' lowest ratings for avoiding C-sections.

"Of course there are situations where having a C-section is the safest delivery option. But for women anticipating a low-risk delivery, they should be encouraged to give birth without having surgery," Peter said.

For her second pregnancy, Archer hoped to avoid another C-section. And in December, her son Quincy had a non-surgical birth.

"Because of my first delivery and the way that I felt like it kind of was taken from me, I wanted control of this pregnancy, delivery, the whole thing," Archer said.

You can check on Consumer Reports ratings for your hospital by going to

Consumer Reports also recommends asking your obstetrician what his or her C-section rate is and discussing your birth plan options.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
Related Topics:
healthconsumer reportspregnancysurgerywomen's healthChicago - Downtown

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