Cesarean birth trends: Where you live significantly impacts how you give birth

The likelihood that an expectant mother will have a cesarean delivery1 is determined in large part by where she lives. An analysis of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies’ data taken from 3 million deliveries by BCBS commercially-insured members shows that the rate of cesarean deliveries is more than twice as high in some parts of the country than in other parts and that even rates by U.S. Census Division vary by as much as 35 percent.

While geographic variation in cesarean deliveries is stark, the trend nationally may be shifting back toward vaginal deliveries. During a five-year period between July 2010 and June 2015, the cesarean rate decreased slightly each year within the BCBS population, to 33.7 percent from 35.2 percent.