By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Women worried about the economy are having fewer babies. A new government report says birth rates are down, and for teens they’ve hit an all time low. Cesarean sections have also stopped going up for the first time in 15 years. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with more.

This new CDC study shows locally deliveries by cesarean section are among the highest rates in the country. There’s a growing trend for women to schedule them for convenience and to forgo the pain of labor and delivery, but some say that doesn’t come without risk.

For 45-year-old Tracey Smith, the birth of her daughter three months ago went exactly according to plan. She scheduled a C-section in advance. Sophia was born in only 45 minutes.

“The contractions and everything that you go through with natural birth, it frightened me. I would like to plan when she was coming into this world and my doctor really reassured me that c-section was the best route for me because of my age,” said Tracey.

“That fear of the unknown really is what drives people up for a c-section,” said Patricia Grube, a C-section critic. She says elective C-sections can jeopardize the lives of mothers and babies, and they should only be done when medically necessary.

A new CDC report shows in New Jersey nearly 39 percent of deliveries are by cesarean section. That’s the second highest rate in the United States. Mom’s in Delaware have C-section’s about 34 percent of the time. And in Pennsylvania, 31.4 percent of births are by cesarean.

Sara Kilpatrick, an OBGYN, said, “there are more physicians now who are comfortable doing a cesarean section on demand.”

Kerry Rasmussen has delivered both ways.

“A cesarean was so much more painful. When you can’t laugh or sneeze for a month without feeling major pain in your abdomen that’s difficult,” said Kerry.

Doctors say a C-section is a major surgery, so there are risks from both the operation, including infections and blood clots, and from the anesthesia, for both mom and baby.

It also takes longer for moms to heal.


C-Section Information
CDC Birth Report (PDF)

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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