As the number of cesarean sections has risen sharply, with no clear evidence that they improve the health of mothers or babies, experts say that childbirth has become overly medicalized and overly expensive. Now some hospitals are making an effort to reduce those trends.

"Massachusetts General Hospital has phased in several new initiatives during the past few months designed to encourage pregnant women to go into labor naturally with fewer medical interventions and, hopefully, lower costs and fewer C-sections. The labor and delivery unit’s obstetricians, nurses, and midwives — all on staff at the hospital — have agreed to end elective inductions, which are usually scheduled ahead of time for the convenience of doctor or patient and without a medical reason. Medical reasons to induce childbirth include high blood pressure or diabetes in the mother or a growth problem in the baby."

"Women whose water has broken but who haven’t started contractions have recently been given the option to return home to get another night of rest — rather than being given drugs to induce contractions— to see if labor will start naturally."

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