St. Joseph Medical Center held a news conference — not coincidentally on Labor Day — to announce the hospital's support for vaginal births whenever possible, even if a previous delivery was a Cesarean birth.
Doctors said that, sometimes, a Cesarean delivery has to be planned or becomes unavoidable. But a vaginal birth not only helps mothers avoid major surgery, it also offers them an easier recovery, helps bond with babies and avoids or decreases the possible side effects associated with Cesarean sections, such as infection and blood loss. It can also help avoid complications with future pregnancies.
Hospital officials also said vaginal births reduce health care costs; the average cost of a vaginal birth is approximately $2,000 less than a Cesarean section.
The rate of vaginal births after a Cesarean section, which often reflects a philosophy of care, can be as low as 4 to 9 percent for some hospitals, according to hospital officials. For St Joseph, it's 21 percent.
"Our rate is much higher than average even though we have a busy perinatal center that cares for high-risk pregnancies, including higher multiples and significant medical problems such as diabetes and advanced maternal age," said Dr. Judith Rossiter, chief of obstetrics/gynecology at St. Joseph.
Rossiter practices what she preaches. She had a Cesarean section for the birth of her first child, who weighed 9 1/2 pounds, she said. She delivered her second child, who was "a more reasonable size," vaginally.