A new report finds the number of cesarean-section deliveries in New Jersey is dropping.

The overall C-section rate in the Garden State last year was 34.3%, down from 35.9% in 2017 and the lowest rate this decade.

“This is one of our key maternal priorities. We know New Jersey has a high C-section rate relative to some other states and we’ve really made it a priority with our birthing hospitals to bring that rate down,” said Kerry McKean Kelly, the vice president of communications and member services for the New Jersey Hospital Association.

She said the association analyzed data from more than 800,000 births in the Garden State and found that the C-section right declined 11.5% from 2011 to 2018.

There has been a 30% decline in the rate of low-risk first-time C-sections.

She said there are times when a C-section is definitely medically necessary.

“Perhaps the baby is not in the right position, perhaps the labor is failing to progress. If the baby is starting to show signs of distress, there are definitely medical indicators where a C-section is the right choice,” she said.

“But we also need to remember that C-sections are surgeries that do carry risks — they can carry things like infection risk for the mother," she said.

“And there is also evidence that shows there can be some determent to the baby, maybe feeding issues or breathing problems."

She said at all of New Jersey’s birthing hospitals have been working on “efforts to engage expectant mothers in planning for their labor and delivery. We want them to be well informed, we want them to be engaged.”

In previous decades, scheduling a C-section was sometimes seen as a matter of preference and convenience, and if a woman had one baby by C-section, all subsequent births were also done by C-section.

“Today it’s about the best outcome for that mom and that baby.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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