Consumer Reports, yes the same organization that rates cars and appliances, has issued a new report evaluating hospitals across the country on their cesarean birth rates. “What Hospitals Don’t Want You to Know About C-sections” is based on the surgical birth rates at over 1,500 hospitals in 22 states for low-risk patients – mothers delivering a single, term baby in the vertex position who had not previously had a c-section. The report concludes that “far too many babies enter this world through cesarean section.”

Highlights of their findings include:
• Wide variation in c-section rates even for hospitals in the same city
• Slightly higher rates of surgical birth at hospitals in larger urban areas
• For-profit hospitals were more likely to have higher rates than non-profit institutions

The article goes on to provide recommendations for avoiding a c-section including carefully choosing the care provider and (drum roll please!) hiring a doula. About doula support, the report says:

“Get support during labor. Consider hiring a doula, a trained birth assistant who can provide physical and emotional support throughout labor and delivery. Women who have continuous support from someone who is not a friend, family member, or a member of the hospital staff labor for shorter periods and are less likely to need interventions, research shows. Ask your insurer if it will cover doula care.” – Consumer Reports, What Hospitals Don’t Want You To Know About C-sections

The full list of hospital ratings is available here and can be a beneficial resource for doulas to know and share with clients.

The recent guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine on preventing primary cesarean sections is also mentioned in the Consumer Reports article. Read more about the ACOG/SMFM statement here.