Multiple medical journals have reported a steady increase in the number of C-sections being performed each year. While C-sections are medically necessary, in some cases, to protect the life of the fetus and mother; not all C-sections are performed out of need. C-sections are major surgery and with major surgery come increased risk of complications, longer hospital stays and prolonged healing. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals a new program may reduce the number of C-sections and time spent in the hospital.

The program is called the South Community Birth Program. More than 2,400 women participated in the program with half receiving care from the South Community Birth Program (active) and the remaining half working as the control (inactive). All women in the study were low-income. 

The number of C-sections performed in the active group lowered by 25% compared to the inactive group. The active group also stayed fewer days in the hospital (both mother and baby). There was also a statistical difference between the active and inactive group when it came to the type of prenatal and birth care chosen. About 42% of the women in the active study chose a midwife over an obstetrician. In Canada, fewer doctors choose obstetrics each year and over the next decade retirement of active obstetricians could put quite a strain on pregnancy care options. Midwifes are important to maintaining healthy prenatal and birth care, which in not necessarily comparable to conditions in the United States. 

Though researchers are excited about the South Community Birth Program results, they have no idea what part of the program fostered the results. Further study is needed to find out just how the program affected women's health, pregnancy outcome and choice of care. 

Source: Susan J. Harris MD, Patricia A. Janssen PhD, Lee Saxell MA and colleagues. Canadian Medical Association Journal. September 10, 2012.

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