KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One out of three babies in America arrives the surgical way. C-sections remain at an all-time high. But a new federal report finds the rate isn't rising anymore, and the number of women having c-sections a little before their due date is dropping.
Darcy Rump is doing just fine after bringing a son, Oliver James, into the world at Saint Luke's Hospital. Darcy pushed for three and a half hours.
"A c-section enters your mind, but that's not what I wanted. It's a major surgery, so I kept going. So we kept pushing," says Darcy.
Doctors say growing awareness of risks of c-sections, including more infections and longer recovery time, may be behind the c-section rate no longer rising although it's still at 33 percent.
Government health officials want the rate to be cut to 15 percent.
Dr. Leanna Mosher, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Saint Luke's, says it's a healthy goal, but will be difficult to achieve in our hurry-up world.
"The culture of our society, even of how long labor should be and what to expect," are factors says Dr. Mosher.
She says fetal monitoring, fear of lawsuits and more older women having babies are some other factors that will make it difficult to reduce c-sections by more than half.
The new federal data also show that slightly early c-sections -- those at 38 weeks -- are down. Dr. Mosher says policies hospitals put into place in recent years are making a difference. No more obliging women who just want to deliver early.
"We have to justify that it's a medical indication for doing a delivery prior to 39 weeks," says Dr. Mosher.
At 39 weeks, babies are much less likely to have health problems that can require stays in intensive care units.