NE Arkansas leads state in C-section births

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to the Arkansas Department of Health's 2013 birth data, northeast Arkansas leads the state in the rate of C-sections.

Nearly 38 percent of all births in 2013 were C-sections.

In Craighead, Cross, Independence, Lawrence and Randolph counties, almost half of the babies born in 2013 were C-section babies.

This is about 17 percent higher than the national rate.

Imboden mother Rachael Jines said both of her daughters were born by cesarean delivery.

Jines said the first C-section was due to complications, and the second was to avoid those complications from happening again.

"I could run into risks, not being able to push her out and having an emergency, which could be more life threatening to me and the baby," Jines said.

But as a health care professional herself, Jines does not advise multiple C-sections for every expectant mother.

"You should just let your body take its natural course. First time, definitely, I would let your body see what it can do, as long as you and your baby's not in any distress or any kind of danger," Jines said.

"We prefer the baby to come out vaginally, if at all possible. We know it's better for the baby. We know it's better for the mother," Dr. Shane Speights, with St. Bernards, said.

Dr. Speights has delivered more than 500 babies by C-section so he knows the risks.

"Remember, that's a major abdominal surgery," Dr. Speights said. "So all the complications that go with major surgery go along with a C-section. Sometimes we forget that because they're so common, but blood clots, infections, wound complications, those all go along with C-sections."

Dr. Speights said it is possible for a woman to have a natural birth after a C-section.

"There's a little bit more risk there, but then we talk about risk versus benefit, and there's a lot more benefit overall," Dr. Speights said. "If we were supposed to have babies by C-section, everyone would have been born with a zipper across their belly."

But Dr. Speights said the decision ultimately depends on each individual woman.

"There are certain circumstances where a C-section is recommended over vaginal delivery, but by and large, that should be a lower percentage. Not these high numbers we're seeing," Dr. Speights said.

Dr. Speights attributes these high rates in northeast Arkansas to many "taking the easy way out."

"Sometimes it's hard for the doctor to say, 'Well, we want to continue what we're doing. Let's just give it a little bit longer,' especially if you have the mother and family pushing the doctor to have a C-section," Dr. Speights said. "And let's be honest. There can be liability involved so sometimes the quickest, easiest thing is just to do a C-section. 'Let's just have a baby and get it over with.' I've heard that before. That's not always the right answer."

"We're a fast-paced world. We want things when we want it and that's just the way it is. A lot of people don't like being taken by surprise. Having a baby is a big surprise," Jines said.

Dr. Speights said the federal government has always put the C-section rate under the microscope. He said the government's goal is to lower the rate to 28 percent.

To see complete birth data for your county and all of Region 8, visit the Arkansas Department of Health website

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