Cesarean deliveries have risen steeply nationwide over the last 15 years. In some parts of the country, women are denied the option to try for a VBAC because of hospital policy or because they can't find a doctor who will agree to the option. A 2005 survey commissioned by Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit association that works for better obstetrical care, found that 45% of women who had a cesarean section were interested in a VBAC for their next pregnancy. Of those women, 57% said their request was denied by either the doctor or hospital.
The report released Wednesday by the National Institutes of Health should help increase access to VBAC. And women in California are luckier than most because they can find out how various hospitals deal with childbirth options. The California HealthCare Foundation provides statistics on cesarean delivery and information on whether VBAC is “routinely performed” at hospitals statewide on its website: www.calhospitalcompare.org.
-- Shari Roan
Photo credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times
* A previous version of this story incorrectly said Cesarean rates have fallen steeply. They have risen steeply.