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C-Section Rate 'Disturbing,' Birth Center Director Says

A recent national study reaffirms what birth center supporters have maintained about their birth statistics.

The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, the only birth center in the five-county area, was part of a national study that recently found that of women who planned for a birth center birth, only 6 percent of them underwent a cesarean section

The national average for c-section births in metropolitan areas is closer to 40 percent (24 percent for low-risk women), a troubling statistic according to Cynthia Flynn, executive director of the birth center.

The study, which spanned three years of data from 79 midwifery-led birth centers, “demonstrates the safety of the midwifery-led birth center model of collaborative care as well as continued low obstetric intervention rates, similar to previous studies of birth center care.”

The follow-up study to one done in 1989 shows that data for those who deliver with midwives has not changed much since that year, while the obstetric intervention and cesarean birth-rate nationwide has increased during that time.

“I think young women have been made to be so terrified of labor and so lulled by the idea of these ‘safe cesareans,'” Flynn said.

True, they are safer than use to be, but they are “nowhere near as safe for either person” as a vaginal birth, she said. According to Flynn, after a c-section mothers are more at risk of Placenta accreta during their following pregnancies, and babies at a higher risk of stillbirth.

“At least 15 percent of women really need a doctor and a hospital… We hugely respect our physician and hospital partners,” Flynn said. “But that said, if you’re talking about a healthy woman, health pregnancy and normal delivery—a baby born with no immune system, do we really want them in a hospital with sick people?”

Flynn recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to explain the study’s findings to 40 legislative aides to members of Congress, including those representing Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.

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