I’ve heard from a lot of moms this week about our new online tool for Comparing Childbirth in Massachusetts. It offers a side-by-side review of hospitals using five quality measures.
OK, these mothers say, quality measures are important, but I don’t want to make a decision based on stats alone.
So here’s a way to translate these measures (which experts say are good ways to assess quality) into an action plan. It’s a list of questions you can use when choosing the doctor or midwife who will help deliver your baby. Please add your own below!
Question: What is your C-section rate?
Background: Many childbirth experts say 15 percent is a good target rate. If the rate for your doctor or the hospital where he or she works is higher, have a conversation about why.
Question: When you are called to the labor floor, do you still have responsibilities in the office?
Background: Some hospitals have or are moving to scheduled hours for OBs in Labor and Delivery units. But in many places an OB is pulled between office hours, labor and sometimes surgery as well. Some childbirth experts say these time pressures push doctors to opt for more C-sections that are medically necessary.
Question: What is your practice regarding elective inductions? Do you induce women before 39 weeks if everything is going well? How long do you suggest women wait, past their due date, to be induced?
Background: Many childbirth experts say babies should not be delivered before 39 weeks to avoid complications, and because babies need the last two weeks for brain, lung, and other vital organ development. Some hospitals wait until two weeks after a mom’s due date to induce because waiting for labor to begin naturally can help women avoid a C-section. But inductions are needed in cases where the mom or baby are in distress.
Question: Once you find a doctor you like, if he or she is part of a larger practice, ask…Do all the doctors in your practice share the same philosophy about: inductions, epidurals, when to declare a mom is no longer making progress in labor? Continue reading