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C-Section Numbers Rise Again: IA Expert Chimes In

May 6, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - The number of births through Cesarean section has surged in the past decade, but women's health advocates say serious considerations remain.

U.S. Cesarean births were up 72 percent from 1997 to 2008, according to the Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality. Reasons for the spike are numerous, but Libby Trausch with the Iowa chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network, says that even though it's become more common, most women don't realize that it's major surgery that can involve all sorts of complications.

Another thing many women overlook when thinking about an elective C-section is the cost Trausch says.

"Vaginal childbirth without complications costs the hospital an average of $3,400 to $4,400, and a C-section $5,700. So it's about $2,000 more to have a C-section."

Women also should consider how long recovery will take, Trausch says.

"Many people, after a normal vaginal delivery, are up and about and doing their normal activities in a week. After a c-section, it's a month."

There are medical reasons for a Cesarean, she says, but according to the World Health Organization, that only accounts for about 15 percent of those surgeries.

The AHRQ findings are online at

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA