OBJECTIVES: The rise in cesarean birth at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1986 to 27.3% prompted implementation of three initiatives to reverse the escalating cesarean section rate. STUDY DESIGN: First, vaginal birth after cesarean section was more strongly encouraged. Second, after the 1988 calendar year the cesarean section rate of every obstetrician was circulated annually to each attending physician. Third, on completion of a prospective, randomized trial of the active management of labor in early 1991, this protocol was recommended as the preferred method of labor management for term nulliparous patients. RESULTS: The total, primary, and repeat cesarean section rates declined from 27.3%, 18.2%, and 9.1% in 1986 to 16.9%, 10.6%, and 6.4%, respectively, in 1991. At the same time the perinatal mortality dropped from 19.5 to 10.3. Significant reductions in abdominal deliveries occurred for both private patients (30.3% to 19.1%, p < 0.0001) and clinic patients (20.8% to 11.5%, p < 0.0001). A decline in operative deliveries for dystocia and an increase in vaginal birth after prior cesarean section were the principal factors contributing to the lower cesarean section rates. However, in 1991 individual private physicians still had wide variations in primary cesarean section rates (4.6% to 21.1%) and use of vaginal birth after prior cesarean section (5.3% to 90%). CONCLUSION: The cesarean section rate has been significantly reduced for both private and clinic patients. Differences in population demographics and individual physician practice patterns contributed to a higher incidence of cesarean birth on the private service.
- Cesarean section
- active management of labor
- vaginal birth after cesarean section
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology