Maternity Care in California: Delivering the Data

Jennifer Joynt

One in eight US births takes place in California. How is our state doing on maternity care measures, and how does California compare with the rest of the nation?

June 2016

Over half a million babies were born in California in 2014 — one in eight of all births in the US. Having a baby is the number one reason for a hospital admission in the state. Maternity Care in California: Delivering the Data provides an overview of the delivery of maternity care in California using available metrics, and compares the state's performance on these metrics by demographic groups, over time, and against national numbers.

Key findings include:



Over the last 15 years, births in California have been on a downward trend, declining 5% from 2000 to 2014. Nearly all babies in California are born in hospitals and delivered by physicians.

Births Trend, California, 2000 to 2014


Medi-Cal covered nearly half of all births in California in 2014.

Births, by Mother's Insurance, California, 2014


California has made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality rates, in contrast to the nation, whose rates continued to rise. While all race/ethnicity and age groups in California have experienced reductions in maternal mortality rates, there were still substantial differences across racial/ethnic groups.

Maternal Mortality Rate, California vs. United States, 2000 to 2013


Significant racial/ethnic disparities existed across a variety of maternal quality measures in California, from prenatal visits to preterm births to maternal and infant mortality rates. For many of these measures, African Americans performed worse than their peers in other racial/ethnic groups.

Childbirth-Related Quality Measures, by Race/Ethnicity, California, 2014


One in five California women giving birth experienced either prenatal or postpartum depression in 2013.

Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Prenatal and/or Postpartum, California, 2013


Consistent with national trends, California's rate of cesarean sections (c-sections) has increased sharply, from one-fifth of all births in 1997 to one-third in 2014. While critical in some circumstances, c-sections can pose serious risks for baby and mother.

Total Cesarean Deliveries, California vs. United States, 1997 to 2014


From 2010 to 2013, the total average payment for cesarean deliveries was nearly 50% higher than the total average payment for vaginal births.

The full report, as well as all the charts found in the report, is available under Document Downloads.

Payments for Birth, Cesarean vs. Vaginal, by Covered California Region, 2010 to 2013