MotherBaby Network

advocacy and commentary with a focus on Lane County, Oregon

Oregon c-section rates for state, counties, hospitals

  April is Cesarean Awareness Month:

What are the cesarean section rates for local hospitals, Lane County and Oregon?


In 2009, the US cesarean section rate rose from 32.3 percent in 2008 to 32.9 percent. This was the 13th consecutive year of increase. Since 1996, the rate at which U.S. cesarean sections are performed increased by 60%. Cesarean section is increasing among women of all age and all race and ethnicity groups. For detailed information, consult the National Vital Statistics Report Births: Preliminary Data for 2009.

The following graph from The Unnecesarean illustrates the cesarean section rate from 1970 to 2009. Cesarean section rates in the United States and Lane County are well beyond recommendations that they not exceed 15%. Tables 1 through 8 below provide 2010 cesarean section rates for Oregon hospitals, counties and the state. 

Exceptionally high rates continue despite the evidence that this practice places women and babies at increased risk for morbidity and mortality immediately following birth and in the long term. Potential risks to babies include: low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory problems, and lacerations. Potential risks to women include: hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, surgical mistakes, re-hospitalization, dangerous placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, unexplained stillbirth in future pregnancies and increased percentage of maternal death.

As cesarean section rates have risen, access to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) has diminished in spite of the 2010 statements from the National Institutes of Health and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supporting it as a safe option. 

Despite the prevalence of cesarean section being performed, women, particularly “low risk” pregnant women, are frequently un- or under-informed about the risks they face for having a one. Gaining insight into their providers’ and hospitals’ philosophies, practices and outcomes is important information that can help a woman decide where and with whom she will give birth. Yet, this information is hard to come by as it is not made readily available or generally offered upon individual request.

Yesterday, the California Department of Public Health released a much-anticipated report on maternal deaths. In addition to race/ethnicity, poverty, education and access to healthcare, medical problems from cesarean sections were reported to have contributed to an increase in maternal deaths. Regarding cesarean section, California Watch reports that it contributed to 15 of 98 maternal mortalities between 2002 and 2003. While women who do not need cesarean section are getting them, other women, for whom the benefits would actually outweigh the risks, are not. The Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the rise in maternal mortality specifically notes the role of cesarean section: Caesarean sections are a major factor in pregnancy-related deaths, report finds

A closer look at Oregon and Lane County

The Oregon Public Health Authority collects statistics for cesarean section by county and facility in a document titled “Oregon Occurrence Births by Final Method of Delivery by County, 2010.” The following tables and graphs were created by MotherBaby Network using the OPHA document statistics. For each Oregon facility, this document lists three methods of delivery: (1) total, (2) cesarean and (3) “other method or unknown.” MotherBaby Network calculated the percentages communicated in Tables 2 – 8. Cesarean section is only performed in hospitals. Accordingly, a  “O %” statistic appears beside non-hospital facilities.

Lane County residents will be interested to know that:

  • Lane County’s 2010 cesarean section rate of 32.33% is slightly below the 2009 national rate of 32.9%. While lower than the national rate, it is more than twice the recommended rate. Table 4 contains statistics for Lane County.
  • Among Oregon hospitals with the ten highest total 2010 births, Sacred Heart River Bend has the third highest cesarean rate, 35.18%, (Table 6). This rate is well above the state and national averages.

Oregonians will be interested to see the greater than 20% variation in cesarean section rates among the state’s hospitals with the ten highest total births in 2010. (Table 6) Within the Portland metro area, Legacy Emmanuel Hospital & Health Center has a rate of 42.34 for 1809 births while Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center has a rate of 21.39% for 1725 births. For an interesting discussion of cesarean section rate variation among “low risk” pregnant women accessing hospitals located just miles apart, read For-profit hospitals performing more C-sections.

Something to ponder

Relative to other states, Oregon has a higher rate of out-of-hospital births. It is also comprised of many rural counties and communities. It would be interesting to explore how these two characteristics may contribute to the state cesarean section rate being considerably lower than the national average as well as the rates of thirty others states in the union. Were Oregon out-of-hospital birth rates similar to most other states, would the statewide cesarean section rate increase?

How does Oregon compare with other states?

Oregon’s 2009 cesarean section rate was 29.4. According to OPHA, the 2010 rate is now 29.45.

Table 1

What are the cesarean section rates for each of Oregon’s counties? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 2

By descending order of total births (highest to lowest), what are the cesarean section rates for each of Oregon’s counties? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 3

What are the rates for Lane County and its hospitals? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 4

What are the rates for Oregon hospitals? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 5a

Table 5b

What are the rates for Oregon’s hospitals with the top ten total births in 2010? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 6

How many of Oregon’s hospitals have cesarean section rates consistent with the World Health Organization recommendation of 10 to 15%? (Click on table to enlarge)

Table 7

Which of Oregon’s hospitals have the ten lowest cesarean section rates?(Click on table to enlarge)

Table 8

Where can women and families learn more about cesarean section?

MotherBaby Network recommends visiting Childbirth Connection’s cesarean section information page. Childbirth Connection is a respected source for up-to-date, evidence-based information and resources on planning for pregnancy, labor and birth, and the postpartum period. The following questions can be addressed there.

  • How can I make sense of what I hear about c-section and vaginal birth?
  • Why should I learn about how cesarean section compares with vaginal birth?
  • Is cesarean section a special concern for certain women?
  • Will c-section protect my pelvic floor from weakness or injury?
  • What if I have already had a cesarean section?
Providers, hospitals and communities are well served to use the March of Dimes new “toolkit” for eliminating elective delivery.

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5 responses to “Oregon c-section rates for state, counties, hospitals

  1. michael gallagher April 28, 2011 at 12:13 am

    The notion that nature has it wrong 30% of the time just seems to fly in the face of reason and common sense. I suspect that sometime in the future medical historians will look back on our eagerness to reach for a scalpel in the same light as bleeding and leeches.

  2. Tatiana June 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this, its wonderful to have that local information. I was fascinated to see that rural hospitals appear to have much lower rates, and it is really instructive to see just how high River Bend’s rates are!

    • motherbabynetwork June 8, 2011 at 4:57 am

      Many thanks Tatiana for reading and commenting! I agree – the OR c section data provides several interesting details and these, in turn, provovke even more questions to ponder. I enjoyed perusing your blog at becomingmidwives.blogspot.com – best of luck pursuing midwifery. Katharine

  3. Carolyn December 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Is there some where to find c-section rate by the doctor?

    • motherbabynetwork December 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

      Hi Carolyn. As far as I know, rates for individual doctors (or midwife referrals) are not collected or made available. I could be wrong but I don’t think a single state collects and/or makes public provider-level data. I would like to see this change as women are individually on their own to learn as much as they can when selecting who will attend them. Would be great to see a state legislator sponsor a bill toward this end!

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