JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - There are too many babies are being born by cesarean section, according to research by Consumer Reports.
The group analyzed more than 1,500 hospitals across 22 states on their ability to avoid doing c-sections on women having low risk deliveries.
The data showed that more than half of those hospitals are doing c-sections on women who may not need them.
There were five hospitals in Southwest Virginia included in the report. They all received bad ratings for failing to avoid c-sections.
Three Mountain States Health Alliance hospitals were studied; Johnston Memorial Hospital, Norton Community Hospital and Smyth County Community Hospital.
Smyth County Community Hospital has not delivered babies since 2010.
Wellmont's Lonesome Pine Hospital and independently run Wythe County Community Hospital were also in the report.
We reached out to Wellmont and Mountain States Health Alliance for a response on the study.
Wellmont released a statement, which read in-part, "Our number one goal at Lonesome Pine Hospital is the safe delivery of babies. The hospital, for example, follows national guidelines by not allowing an elective delivery prior to 39 weeks gestation unless there is a medical reason."
You can read the full statement below.
We have not received a statement from Mountain States Health Alliance.
ETSU professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Brooke Foulk, told us that societal pressure could be a factor in the increase in c-section deliveries.
"If they're worried about malpractice suits, which the higher and higher those things get sometimes a lot of doctors might think its easier to do a c-section and get the baby out safely," said Foulk.
Foulk told us, however, that c-sections actually have a more risks than natural births.
"It has a much higher percentage of mortality, even death with women, blood clots surgical complications," she said.
Asking your doctor the right questions is the best way to keep your baby safe, Foulk said.
"Even different physicians might have different ideas of what's important and what's not, so being evidence based, make sure your physician is up to date and knows the best practices, and really holding them accountable to know they're really doing what's best for your baby is the important thing," Foulk told us.
Lauren Downs, who has a 10-month-old daughter, told us she talked to her doctor before inducing labor a week before her due date.
"Everything was fine and she was big enough," said Downs. "She was just ready to go and it was actually really nice to know that morning I was going to be induced. I wasn't really stressed, I was very relaxed."
Downs told us they made that decision because she was in so much discomfort towards the end of her pregnancy.
"I think its a very positive thing," said Downs. "I wasn't planning on having a c-section. I just had planned to be induced and it just kind of happened that later in the day."
We're told Downs' doctor made the right choice by trying to induce natural labor first, instead of just doing an early cesarean section.
"No reason to specifically do a c-section and we're talking about 'I want my baby out on this day,'" said Dr. Foulk. "We'd normally try an induction even if it's not favorable, knowing that you might have a failed induction and have a c-section anyways."
Statement from Wellmont:
"Our number one goal at Lonesome Pine Hospital is the safe delivery of babies. The hospital, for example, follows national guidelines by not allowing an elective delivery prior to 39 weeks gestation unless there is a medical reason. Lonesome Pine has not had an unjustified early elective delivery in the two years it has tracked that information.
"The data from Consumer Reports represent an incomplete picture of Wellmont Health System's deliveries, as just one of our four birthing units was included.
"There are times when a caesarean section delivery is medically appropriate or preferred by the mother. At all times, we are focused on the well-being of the child and would not deliver by caesarean if the risk of that method is greater than it would be vaginally."