As C-section rates soar in Kentucky, some mothers are pushing fo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

As C-section rates soar in Kentucky, some mothers are pushing for more natural births

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Even though it's not in the plan for most expectant mothers, more women are delivering their babies by C-section. 

Katie Lacer says she educated herself on the natural, unassisted birth she wanted to have, but the plan changed at the last minute, and she said the on-call doctor became abusive. 

"You're in this vulnerable state, and you have someone you're supposed to trust physically and verbally abusing you," Lacer said. 

She said her first childbirth experience left her traumatized. 

"If you don't let me break your water, you're going to kill your baby. If you're active, you're going to harm your baby. If you eat something, you're going to die on the table for a C-section," she recounted the doctor telling her. 

Lacer said it took five years for her to find the courage to have another baby. This time, she traveled to Frankfort to give birth with a midwife, avoiding the pressure to give birth via C-section or other interventions. 

"His birth experience was perfect," she said of her second child. 

Right now, 32 percent of U.S. births end in C-sections. That's far higher than the the World Health Organization's recommendation of 10-15 percent. In Kentucky, it's even higher at 35 percent. It's one reason more woman are now looking outside a conventional doctor's office for prenatal care. 

"Probably about 75 percent of our patients come from Louisville, and I think it's because there hasn't been an option in Louisville for nurse midwives," certified nurse midwife Beth Barry said. 

Barry is one of the three certified nurse midwives on staff at WomanCare in Jeffersonville, who, along with doctors, deliver babies at Clark Memorial Hospital. They are medically trained and licensed to deliver babies, but specialize in lower-tech, less-invasive births. Barry's C-section rate is just five to eight percent. 

"You've got to have that trust, and if you don't have that trust then you're not going to trust when I say we need to change the plan, that it's because we need to change the plan and not because I want to get home for dinner or because I'm tired and I've been here all night," Barry said.  

While the perception might be that C-sections are performed for convenience, Norton Doctor Reed Nett says that's not what she has encountered. 

"I can honestly say I don't see a lot of people doing things out of their own convenience, because patient well-being should always be at the forefront of physicians minds," she said. "It's why we usually chose this profession. We took a Hippocratic Oath that says, 'first, do no harm.'"

At Norton, 27 percent of moms end up having a C-section, but Nett says it's important to look at why those surgeries are happening. 

"A C-section rate in a hospital where you have a level three nursery who sees preterm labor, low birth weight, is much more likely to be in mal presentation," Nett said. "Of course our C-section rates are going to be higher, because you're taking care of a sicker patient population."

Nett says more doctors in our area are making natural childbirth possible for women. 

"In my particular patient population, I do like to feel like I can offer them the same opportunities that a nurse midwife can offer them," said Dr. Nett. 

Damara Jenkins spent 15 years as a labor and delivery nurse before making the jump to midwifery. 

"Birth is a normal process in life, and it's the woman who has to go through the birth. So it should be her choice of how she does it," Jenkins said. 

She became the first midwife working at a Louisville hospital, joining the U of L Center for Women and Infants last year. 

"This just affords even more women a choice," Jenkins said. "We can work in collaboration with physicians and we have a safety net so to speak."

That's attracting patients like Lauren Blalock, who previously gave birth in Indiana. 

"When she moved here to U of L, I decided to follow because I had such a good experience with her," Blalock said. 

The demand has increased so much, the center is adding a third midwife in December. 

"They'll see the benefits not only in the lower C-section rate and increased patient satisfaction, and it's a good business decision," said Jenkins. 

It'll also mean good business for moms looking to have more control over their birth plans. 

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