When Melissa Petrus found out she was expecting her first Child, she was determined to have a vaginal birth. She admitted that she was aware that performing a cesarean section the first time would almost certainly necessitate another in the future. And C-sections come with complications that could restrict the number of children she could have to one Child, she remembered thinking.
However, Petrus, who lives in Orange County, California, was concerned that a C-section would be needed when she learned her first baby was in a breech position around a month before her March 2015 due date. She tried a few “hocus pocus tricks” to get the baby to settle into the head-down position over the next few weeks, including doing handstands in the tub, sage on her toes, and sitting facedown on the sofa.
There was no such luck. The baby was then manually flipped by her doctor at Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton. She said, “It worked, and I was able to deliver my daughter vaginally on her due date.” Petrus expressed gratitude for the support she received from her doctor and nurses during labor and childbirth.
Many California hospitals, including Providence St. Jude Medical Center, have followed statewide policies and introduced programs in recent years to eliminate C-sections in low-risk first Child births — those involving single fetuses in the head-down position at 37 weeks or later.
The efforts are bearing fruit: According to a new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the incidence of caesareans in low-risk first births in California has decreased from 26% in 2014, before coordinated efforts began, to 22.8 percent in 2019. In contrast, the national rate remained constant at 26% over the same period.