Rise in C-sections in Canada not due to maternal preferences

Ottawa (May 6, 2011)—The rate of Cesarean sections performed in Canadian hospitals has increased by nearly 10% from 1995–1996 to 2008–2009, and it’s not because women are clamouring for them. The latest issue in the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation’s (CHSRF) popular Mythbusters series entitled Myth: C-sections are on the rise because more mothers are asking for them highlights that the preferences of healthcare providers, not maternal preferences, are driving the numbers up.

“A woman’s maternity care provider has a lot to do with whether or not she has a C-section,” noted Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, PhD, a researcher at the University of Ottawa. “The Mythbusters article draws attention in particular to the considerable variation across the country, pointing to inconsistently implemented practice guidelines.”

This rising trend comes at a cost both to the women who are subjected to the C-sections and to the healthcare system:

  • Many obstetricians believe that C-sections are as safe as natural childbirth. A belief not supported by scientific evidence. Surgery always has risks.
  • Canada’s healthcare system could save close to $25 million if the rate of first-time, let alone, repeat C-sections, could be reduced by 15%.

“There are definitely times when a surgical intervention is the right choice during childbirth, but the high rate does not align with the evidence or with the research done about mothers’ preferences,” said Maureen O’Neil, President of CHSRF. “

The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit corporation with a mandate to promote the use of evidence to strengthen the delivery of health services that improve the health of Canadians. CHSRF is funded though an agreement with the Government of Canada.


For further information:
Cecily Wallace
Senior Communications Advisor, Communications and Public Affairs
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF)
Tel. : +1 613-728-2238, ext 355