A national study released Thursday suggests women who deliver babies at midwife-assisted birth centers require fewer C-sections than women who deliver babies in hospitals.

The study, conducted by the American Association of Birth Centers, included 15,500 women who delivered babies in midwife-assisted birth centers during a four-year period starting in 2007. Fewer than six percent of the women who delivered in a birth center required a C-section, compared with an average 24 percent of women who require the surgical procedure delivering infants in hospitals throughout the U.S., the study shows.

Lesley Rathbun, midwife and owner of Charleston Birth Place in North Charleston, told Time magazine her facility is booked solid through July as more women in the Lowcountry seek options for delivering their babies outside the traditional hospital setting.

Rathbun, president elect of the American Association of Birth Centers, said in a statement about the study, “Americans need to learn about the high-quality care that midwife-led birth centers offer.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.