California campaign is designed to encourage conversations with care team about preferences before labor
June 20, 2018
As part of its efforts to advance improvements in health care, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) has launched #MyBirthMatters, a statewide campaign designed to educate expectant mothers about cesarean (c-section) delivery and encourage conversations between them, their doctor, and their care team.
While a c-section can be critical and even lifesaving in certain circumstances, many women are unaware that it is major surgery that comes with serious health risks and should only be performed when necessary.
The campaign offers free educational materials in English and Spanish, including brochures, posters, and other print materials designed to be displayed in medical offices and settings where expectant mothers are present. At the centerpiece of the campaign are four short animated videos (approximately two minutes each) that educate women about c-sections and encourage them to share their birth preferences.
“Pregnant women want to have a greater voice in their care,” said Stephanie Teleki, director, Learning and Impact at CHCF. “Women need to understand the benefits and risks of undergoing a c-section, to help lead to more productive conversations and to hopefully avoiding a c-section unless it is absolutely needed.”
Overuse of c-sections matters. For mothers it can result in higher rates of hemorrhage, transfusions, infection, and blood clots. And once a mother has had a c-section, she has a greater than 90% chance of having one again for subsequent births, leading to higher risks of major complications. The surgery also brings risks for babies, including higher rates of infection, respiratory complications, neonatal intensive care unit stays, and lower breastfeeding rates.
Approximately one in three babies born in California (and in the United States as a whole) are born via c-section. In fact, over the past decade, births by c-section have risen by 50% nationwide. The upward trend is seen across all demographics, and there is wide, unwarranted variation in the rate of c-sections performed at California hospitals, ranging from under 15% to above 60%.
“My Birth Matters has been a yearlong effort that included extensive research to develop, test, and refine the communications materials with patients and providers,” said Elliott Main, MD, medical director for CMQCC, which is leading a quality-improvement collaborative to promote vaginal birth in more than 100 California hospitals. “The goal is to encourage providers and expectant mothers to work together to talk about their expectations for child birthing and delivery before they go into labor.”
The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.