Analay Souza-Campos is still haunted by the birth of her first child.
“After 18 hours being stuck in a bed, unable to move, refusing medication with a baby monitor attached to my baby, I was literally – I surrendered,” Souza-Campos said. “I felt like I had an unnecessary C-section.”
The mother told NBC 6 she felt pressured to agree to a C-section after she was informed of the possibility that her doctor wasn’t going to be at the hospital much longer.
“I was very afraid of that,” she said. “I almost rather have a C-section with the doctor I knew than deliver with a doctor that I didn’t know.”
Marci Perez can relate with that experience. She also felt pressured into having a C-section when she gave birth to her first child, she said.
“I was already about 8 centimeters and the doctor, to my surprise, came in and said ‘we’re going to have a C-section,’” she remembered him saying. “I believe the doctor was really in a rush because he had other patients.”
About one in three babies born in the United States are delivered by C-section and while being overweight, diabetic or older can make it more likely for a woman to have one, Consumer Reports found there was another factor to consider.
“Your biggest risk of having an unnecessary C-section could actually be the hospital where you choose to give birth,” said Lauren Friedman of Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports found that 16 hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties had C-section rates higher than 23.9% - the national target for low-risk births. The study also found that at Hialeah Hospital, 64.6% of low-risk babies are delivered by C-section – the highest rate in the country.
“It’s not surprising to me,” said Dr. Alberto Dominguez-Bali, an OB-GYN at Hialeah Hospital.
Dr. Dominguez-Bali doesn't believe doctors are responsible for the high C-section rate.
“There are physicians who do a C-section because they are in a hurry? Yes, the answer is yes,” he said. “They are most of them? The answer is no.”
Instead, Dr. Dominguez-Bali said the numbers have more to do with the population and culture they serve – including women who he described as being overweight and having the tendency to skip prenatal care.
“Our rate of obesity is almost in 80% of the population that comes to this office in the middle of Hialeah,” he said.
But, according to an expert who spoke to Consumer Reports, obesity and other factors pointing to mothers only account for a small amount of the increase over time. So how can you avoid an unnecessary C-section?
Consumer Reports recommends doing your research on a hospital before signing up. They also suggest considering a midwife.
Sandra Lobaina is a midwife. Many of her clients have signed up for her services because they want to avoid a C-section if they can, she said.
“We have a lot of moms that will transfer to us later on in their pregnancy because the doctor will say yes, we’re going to go for a natural birth and when they get to around 36 weeks, they’re starting to talk about scheduling their C-section,” Lobaina said.
Analay, meanwhile, delivered her second and third babies at home, using a midwife. She told us she’s glad she did.
“When you have a C-section, you feel that your baby’s given to you and if you have a natural birth, you feel that you brought your baby to life,” she said.
You can read the full Consumer Reports investigation of C-section rates and check out details of where other local hospitals stand here.