Forty-five hospitals in South Carolina intend to sign an agreement to end elective C-sections before the 39th week of pregnancy. Pregnancies are normally 40 weeks long. Some experts believe that a good national average for caesareans is 4.5 percent. The United States had 31 percent, or one in three deliveries via C-section, in 2007.
The rate of elective C-sections as opposed to caesareans for medical reasons appears relatively low. A 2006 survey by the Childbirth Connection found that only one of 1,600 surveyed first-time mothers elected to have a caesarean for no medical reason. Childbirth Connection argues that the increasing rate of C-section deliveries is not due to a mother’s desire, but instead from a medical and hospital culture that favors quicker births.
In South Carolina, 8 percent, or 2,500 of Medicaid-paid pregnancies, use elective C-section, according to an Associated Press article.
Hospitals expect taxpayers to save money with the new agreement. Early births via C-section can result in newborns that are not fully developed, with a resulting increase in the cost of medical care.