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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Myth of the Maternal Request Cesarean: Exploring Mothers Attitudes Toward Cesarean Birth

Eugene Declercq, PhD, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617-638-7795, declercq@bu.edu

The cesarean rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2004 of 29.1%. Maternal request cesareans have been proposed as a major contributor to the high cesarean rate with an NIH State of the Science Conference held in March, 2006 entitled, “Cesarean Delivery on Maternal Request.” However there is very little direct information on mother's attitudes toward cesarean birth. This presentation will examine data from Listening to Mothers II, a national survey of 1574 mothers who gave birth in 2005. The survey included questions exploring mothers' experiences and attitudes regarding cesarean birth and found little support for the contention that the rising cesarean rate is the result of maternal requests. Of those mothers who had a primary cesarean, less than 1% (1/252) had actually sought it as an alternative to vaginal birth. In almost 90% of the cases, the decision to have a primary cesarean was made by a physician either during (64%) or prior to (24%) labor. Mothers did support the general right of a woman to have the option of a cesarean birth if they wanted it (46% favor -- 31% opposed), but at far lower rates than supported the right to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (85% -- 5%) or a vaginal birth (93% -- 1%). The presentation will also explore how attitudes toward maternal request cesareans vary by key subgroups.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Access and Services, Emerging Health Issues

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Women's Choices in Childbirth: Access to Care

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA