Wisconsin Amish Might Have Model For Reducing C-Sections


The rate of cesarean birth in the United States is more than twice the rate recommended by the World Health Organization.A look at a Wisconsin Amish community suggests ways to reduce surgical births.

A third of all births in the U.S. are delivered by c-section. It’s a procedure that the National Center for Health Care Statistics says has increased 50 percent since 1996. Part of the reason is women in the U.S. who’ve had one cesarean continue to do so for subsequent births. That’s not the case in a birth center used by a Wisconsin Amish community in La Farge. There, 95 percent of Amish women who had a c-section opted for nonsurgical births after that. In the general population only 8 percent of women do so.

Dr. Lee Dresang coordinates maternity care at the UW School of Medicine and studied what’s done at a birthing center in La Farge for Amish women, “And that has to do with cultural factors both providers and women choosing to have the cesarean. Whereas in the Amish culture there was much more of an emphasis on avoiding a c-section if possible.”

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Dr. Dresang says there are many opportunities to reduce cesareans. For instance, repositioning babies before they’re born so they aren’t head first, “Although it (La Farge) was a unique setting the practices there are ones that are exportable and could be used throughout the U.S. and could be used to bring down the kind of epidemic cesarean rate we have now.”

The La Farge Birthing Center opened in 1993 to help pregnant Amish women, who normally give birth at home.

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