Unnecessary C-sections pose health risks for mother and baby | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Unnecessary C-sections pose health risks for mother and baby

A cesarean section can be a lifesaving surgery, but a C-section also can raise health risks when the procedure is not medically necessary.

A cesarean section (C-section) can be an essential, lifesaving surgery during labor and delivery, with more health risks for a mother compared to a vaginal birth.

“Even though all C-sections have some health risks, I believe C-sections should be done in cases when it is medically necessary, when a vaginal birth would have more risk than a C-section,” said Kris E. Barnsfather, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care.

What are the health risks for C-sections?

A C-section is a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through incisions in the uterus and abdomen. Health risks for C-sections include infection, hemorrhage, uterine rupture and respiratory issues for infants. Mothers who undergo a C-section can face additional health risks during future pregnancies and deliveries.

What is a good C-section rate?

Norton Women’s Care, with childbirth services at Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, has been recognized as High Performing in Adult Maternity Care (Uncomplicated Pregnancy) by U.S. News & World Report, rated “excellent” at minimizing avoidable C-sections.

Caregivers at Norton Healthcare’s two labor and delivery locations deliver more than 8,000 babies a year, and fewer than 23.9% of first-time, low-risk pregnancies at full term were cesarean deliveries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, nearly one-third (31.8%) of all live births in the U.S. were cesarean deliveries. CDC data shows the C-section rate in the U.S. has risen from being less than one-quarter (23.5%) in 1991, and providers have been encouraged to minimize the health risks for otherwise healthy patients.

Extra support for patients of Norton Women’s Care

Norton Women’s Care

U.S. News & World Report has rated Norton Women’s Care “excellent” at minimizing avoidable cesarean sections.

Call (502) 629-4GYN (4496).

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Norton Women’s Care offers special resources and programs that can enhance a patient’s birth experience:

  • Midwives
    • A nurse practitioner who offers holistic support during labor and childbirth, can deliver babies and is highly trained in low-risk pregnancies. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) practice in a medical setting and collaborate with OB/GYN physicians.
  • Doulas
    • A doula is a trained support person for the mother other than a partner or a family member. Doulas offer additional physical and emotional support during labor and childbirth. Studies show that women with extra support during labor can reduce their risks of needing a C-section in a low-risk pregnancy.
  • Childbirth classes
    • Patients can learn strategies for comfort and coping with pain during labor, reducing medical interventions and receiving continuous support during labor and birth. Most classes offered by Norton Women’s Care are free.

While many deliveries are uncomplicated, Norton Women’s Care also specializes in high-risk deliveries, with a specialty maternal-fetal medicine program and connection to specialists in two neonatal intensive care units.

Upcoming childbirth classes include:


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