WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in three babies in the United States are born via C-section. Because of this, the federal government is pushing to reduce the rate of C-sections in first-time moms to 23.5% by December of 2021.
Kayla Renegar is pregnant with her second child. She remembers worrying at one point during her first delivery that her birth plan would have to change.
"At the end, my blood pressure kind of spiked a little bit. That was a big concern with the midwives and myself that it could turn into a C-section. They actually had the IV's hooked up to me just in case," she says.
Leigh Anne Smith is a certified nurse midwife with Novant Health. She says C-sections come with dangerous risks.
"C-sections are major abdominal surgery and so they come with risks: damage to organs and other things, and then a uterine scar that could come with risks for subsequent pregnancies," she says.
However, she says some conditions warrant the procedure.
"Things including fetal stress, intolerance of labor, and then maternal issues of high blood pressure that's not controlled, or any other problems they've had with their pregnancy that aren't stable with labor," Smith says.
To lower its C-section rate, Novant Health has renovated its birthing suites to allow for more rooms for moms to move around. It has also taught staff to maneuver babies in order to get them in a better position for delivery.
Renegar was very thankful for this help.
"The whole time I was in labor, I felt calm, very informed, and everyone just told me what was going on. There was nothing to hide and with the intervention of all the midwives and everything that they did, I was able to have a vaginal birth," she says.
Novant Health lowered its C-section rate to 22.3% overall in 2020. Forsyth Medical Center's decreased to 12-13% during the summer months, often the busiest time of year for the maternity department.
According to The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the C-secton rate in the Tar Heel State was 29.4% between 2014 and 2018. During that same time period, Guilford County's rate was 29.2%, Wake County's 28.7%, Mecklenburg County's 29.6%, and Buncombe County, 29.9%.