There Are Proven Ways To Reduce C-Sections

Doing away with the outdated Friedman Curve and putting the mother at the center of the birthing process does wonders.

Allison Yarrow makes it clear: It’s not the woman’s fault. Lay the blame for the rising rates of cesarean sections at the foot of hospitals and doctors, Yarrow writes in an opinion piece in the New York Times. Yarrow, a best-selling author currently at work on a book about pregnancy, birth and motherhood, writes that “it isn’t women’s choices that have driven the high rate” of C-sections. (In the United States, 32% of live births are by C-section; it should be between 10% and 15%.)

One problem is that many hospitals and doctors still use the Friedman Curve, created in the 1950s and which has since been disproven. “According to Dr. Friedman’s study, active labor began sooner, and took less time, than it actually does today,” writes Yarrow. “This error has produced countless unnecessary C-sections.” Despite this, the Friedman Curve is still a yardstick in many hospitals.

Yarrow also says that the number of C-sections have been reduced in some hospitals with the introduction of a white board. The board encourages putting the mother at the center of a team approach to delivery. It should include every member of the team, the mother’s birthing preferences that “can change as labor does,” and then the status of the mother and infant as labor progresses.

“Last [on the board] is the time when the whole team will ‘huddle’ or reconvene,” Yarrow writes. “All conversations about labor and the laboring woman are supposed to occur with her present.”