Transforming Maternity Care in TN — Data

If you haven’t yet seen some of the amazing tools now offered by Childbirth Connection, you must take the time to look at some of the compiled data concerning maternity care in this country. You can go here to click on an interactive map of the country to see rates of c-section, induced labor, teen pregnancy, and more: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/resources/datacenter/

Specifically, I was outraged to read some of the statistics for my home state of Tennessee. We know the World Health Organization states no country is justified in having a cesarean rate over 10-15%, yet the U.S. cesarean rates have kept increasing yearly until they now stand at over 32% of all births. While many organizations have been working to reduce this number (including International Cesarean Awareness Network), we all have to ask ourselves what we can do to transform maternity care on a local and national level.

For my state of Tennessee, what troubled me the most was the amount of induced labors. A quick review of the states that have reportable data shows that Tennessee has the highest amount of induced labors. A whopping 35% of labors are induced. This is insanity. This is dangerous. It is unacceptable. There are evidence based medical reasons to sometimes induce labors, but there is no way all of these inductions fall into that category. Sadly, many women are not given informed consent concerning the dangers of inducing– some of which are babies on the cusp of being pre-term, doubling their chance of the induction turning into a cesarean section, uterine rupture, hemorrhage, fetal distress, impacting breastfeeding, and more.

Speaking of cesareans, the statistics place Tennessee at 34%. This is also unacceptable. The rate of cesarean births is more than double the accepted and recommended amount. Why are we accepting this?

This impacts you. It impacts your loved ones, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers. At some point, each and everyone one of us (you) has to start standing up and questioning the appalling statistics and the subsequent consequences. Sometimes it’s hard to speak up to someone who cheerfully announces an induction date. We cannot blame the women in this process, because most have not been given informed consent. We can however, encourage and foster personal responsibility for maternity choices.  How many lives could we impact by directing women, pregnant, or of childbearing age, to evidenced based organizations so they can receive accurate information on how to best choose their maternity care?

It’s not us against doctors, or insurance companies. It’s simply time to say we don’t accept this standard of care any more and take our bodies, our births, our business to providers who are actively working themselves to provide evidence based care and who fall in line with recommended percentages of inductions, interventions, and cesarean sections. The average cost in the U.S.  is $13,000 for a surgical birth versus $8500 for a vaginal birth, at a hospital.

Speaking of hospitals, how does yours compare? The Unnecesarean has compiled some data that might shock you. http://www.theunnecesarean.com/blog/2010/4/16/tennessee-cesarean-rates-by-hospital-2008.html. I do realize that some hospitals will have higher rates of surgical births because they see more high-risk mother’s or handle transfers from low-risk centers, but ask yourself: If I am low risk, why would I choose to go to a high risk doctor or hospital?

Pass this information along. You never know who you may impact or how you can be a part of transforming maternity care.

Resources to get you started:

www.ican-online.org
www.childbirthconnections.org
www.birthnetwork.org
www.theunnecesarean.com
www.motherfriendly.org

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