Persistent Problem: High C-Section Rates Plague the South

by | Apr 14, 2022 | Health

All along, Julia Maeda knew she wanted to have her baby naturally. For her, that meant in a hospital, vaginally, without an epidural for pain relief.

This was her first pregnancy. And although she is a nurse, she was working with cancer patients at the time, not with laboring mothers or babies. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” said Maeda, now 32. “I didn’t do much preparation.”

Her home state of Mississippi has the highest cesarean section rate in the U.S. — nearly 4 in 10 women who give birth there deliver their babies via C-section. Almost two weeks past her due date in 2019, Maeda became one of them after her doctor came to her bedside while she was in labor.

“‘You’re not in distress, and your baby is not in distress — but we don’t want you to get that way, so we need to think about a C-section,’” she recalled her doctor saying. “I was totally defeated. I just gave in.”

C-sections are sometimes necessary and even lifesaving, but public health experts have long contended that too many performed in the U.S. …

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