Statement from Michele Deck, President of Lamaze International

News Release

Statement from Michele Deck, President of Lamaze International regarding: Release of Annual Birth Statistics

Contact: Jenni Glenn, Jones Public Affairs, 202-591-4013,

For Release: November 17, 2011

Today’s release of annual birth statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is a tiny glimmer of good news for pregnant women.  After 13 consecutive years of startling increases, the cesarean rate held steady in 2010, according to the newly released report.  However, with nearly 33 percent of women undergoing major surgery to have their babies, women still have reason to be vigilant against overuse of cesareans.  

Public health experts agree that the overall cesarean rate can safely be less than 15 percent, and significantly lower in low-risk women giving birth for the first time. Yet concerns over liability, convenience and reimbursement are factors fueling the dramatic year-over-year jumps in the cesarean rate.  Additional factors include the overuse of other medical interventions that can lead to cesarean (like induction, confinement to bed and limits on laboring based on outdated “labor curves”) and the lack of support systems for vaginal births after cesareans. 

Unfortunately for mothers and babies, the skyrocketing use of cesareans has not correlated to any improvement in health outcomes.  In fact, researchers have seen a link between high cesarean use and increased rates of maternal death. Overall, the United States lags behind other industrialized nations in maternal and neonatal health outcomes.  According to a recent World Health Organization report, babies born in 40 nations have a lower risk of death than newborns in the United States.

Cesarean surgery carries the risks of any major surgery, including hemorrhage, anesthesia accidents, emergency hysterectomy, post-operative blood clots, major infection and unresolved long-term pain.   Babies face potential harms from cesarean delivery as well, including a higher risk of death in the first year, admission to intensive care units (ICU), prematurity, respiratory complications and childhood development of asthma and allergies.

While advocates, providers, institutions and insurers are all beginning to have more constructive conversations around improving care for pregnant women and their babies, women should not underestimate their own roles.  Pregnant women have the power to drive medical decision making and increase their chances of avoiding unnecessary surgery.  With evidence-based information, support and resources, women can be active participants in the labor and birth process, and prevent unnecessary cesareans, as well as the potential complications that follow.

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About Lamaze International
Lamaze International promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices.  Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman’s body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years.  Lamaze education and practices are based on the best and most current medical evidence available.  Working closely with their families, health care providers and Lamaze educators, millions of pregnant women have achieved their desired childbirth outcomes using Lamaze practices.  The best way to learn about Lamaze’s steps to a safe and healthy birth is to take a class with a Lamaze certified instructor.  To find classes in your area, or for more information visit

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