Better Childbirth Experiences in Eastside Hospitals

Overlake Medical Center and Clinics and EvergreenHealth are two of four hospitals nationwide to participate in a trial to reduce C-sections and increase the likelihood that birth plans are followed.

Cesarean sections are on the rise. Since the 1970s, they have skyrocketed 500 percent and are now the most common surgery performed in the United States.

Avoiding C-sections, however, is better for babies — who can be at a higher risk for diseases — and mothers, who have a longer recovery period and a greater risk of infection than they do with a natural birth.

In light of research that has revealed the negative impacts of C-sections, one project, the Ariadne Labs Delivery Decisions Initiative, aims to reduce unnecessary C-sections, increase the rate of vaginal deliveries, and enhance safety for laboring mothers with better communication tools.

Part of the initiative is the Team Birth Project, which is a collaboration between Ariadne Labs and four hospitals nationwide — two of which are the Eastside’s own EvergreenHealth and Overlake Medical Center.

“We are honored to have been chosen to participate in the Team Birth Project, which supports our Family Maternity Center in further empowering women and families as they collaborate with their care team to make the best possible decisions together as a team during labor,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Amy Beiter, M.D.

Overlake’s President and CEO, Mike Marsh, also looks forward to the partnership, which will help Overlake continue its role as a statewide leader in improving safety for expecting mothers. The goal, he said, is to make Washington state the safest place to have a baby.

The Team Birth Project launched in late January at both EvergreenHealth and Overlake and will take place over 18 months. The project aims to improve communication between the clinical team and the mother during labor, the breakdown of which can prevent mothers from making informed decisions.

“Our long-term goal is to ensure every Washingtonian gets a birth that is safe, supportive, and empowering,” said Neel Shah, leader of the trial and director of Ariadne Labs’ Delivery Decisions Initiative.

One piece that will help to make this goal a reality is the labor and birth planning board, a whiteboard present in every labor and delivery room that patients, families, and care-team members can use to capture the intended birth plan. Providers, staff, and families also will check in regularly to discuss the birth plan and the decisions and preferences that relate to it.

The goal of this ongoing collaboration is to help everyone, especially mothers, feel more empowered throughout the process. It also will hopefully help more women avoid having C-sections whenever they are not absolutely necessary. 

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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