In the U.S., nearly one in three women gives birth by cesarean section.
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, cesarean birth is too common in the United States and has increased greatly since it was first measured in the 1960s.
Using C-section data reported by 1,318 hospitals through the voluntary 2016 Leapfrog Hospital Survey, Leapfrog found that over 55% of reporting hospitals had excessive rates of C-sections. That means that far too many women are undergoing a major abdominal surgery without medical necessity.
Cesarean sections carry serious risks of infection or blood clots, and many women experience longer recoveries and difficulty with future pregnancies. C-sections can also cause problems for babies, like breathing difficulties that need treatment in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). In the long-term, research shows that C-sections can cause chronic pelvic pain in some women, and babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing chronic childhood diseases like asthma and diabetes.
Thanks to a partnership with Childbirth Connection, we have designed this page to help women and families understand our C-section results, learn about the risks and benefits of C-sections, and ultimately make more informed choices about their birth hospital.
Interested in your hospital's rate? Find the full results by using our compare tool.
How we measure cesarean sections
Never before have purchasers or patients had a single, standardized C-section rate to compare by hospital at the national level.
The Leapfrog Hospital Survey uses a tested, validated measure endorsed by the Joint Commission, National Quality Forum (NQF) and CMS. The NTSV C-section measure identifies pregnancies that are unlikely to need surgical intervention during labor.
With the guidance of its Maternity Care Expert Panel, The Leapfrog Group adopted the cesarean section target rate (23.9%) proposed by HealthyPeople.gov’s 2020 initiative, which seeks to improve the health and well-being of women, infants, children and families by the year 2020.
By voluntarily reporting their C-section rate to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, hospitals are showing dedication towards transparency, which is an important first step in lowering their rate.
There will always be cases where C-sections are medically necessary, but experts agree that doctors perform far too many. Learn more about how to protect yourself and your baby from unnecessary C-sections.
Pathway to a Healthy Birth (Infographic)
Pathway to a Healthy Birth (Booklet)
Camino Hacia un Parto Saludable (booklet)
This measure is publicly reported as Cesarean Sections on Leapfrog's Hospital Ratings Results page.