Promoting Vaginal Birth

Cesarean sections are the most frequent hospital surgery in the United States. Although there are many instances when c-sections are the safest choice, far too many are performed for non-medically indicated reasons.

Statistics:

According to the CDC, the number of cesarean sections in the United States increased by 60 percent between 1996-2009, with no demonstrable improved outcomes for moms or babies. The overuse of this major surgical procedure has significant social, economic and health costs, including:

  • higher rates of maternal complications and longer recovery times
  • higher rates of NICU admissions
  • increased barriers to the mother-infant breastfeeding relationship 

One of the major contributors in the overuse of cesarean sections is among low-risk, first-time mothers. Once a woman has her first c-section, the successful rate of VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) is approximately 8 percent.

In order to help clinicians measure the number of low-risk, first-time mothers having a cesarean section, CMQCC developed the Nulliparous, Term, Singleton, Vertex (NTSV) Cesarean Birth Rate quality metric. Data from the California Maternal Data Center demonstrates that there are large variations among the NTSV rates across California hospitals -– from 11% to as high as 77% -- indicating substantial improvement opportunities.

Tools:

CMQCC is committed to helping hospitals improve labor management and lower their low-risk, first-time birth cesarean rates.

 In 2016, CMQCC published the Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans, as well as The Implementation Guide to help hospitals put the recommendations from the evidence-based toolkit into practice. CMQCC is also currently leading an outreach collaborative across hospitals in California to help them lower their NTSV rates to the Healthy People 2020 target of 23.9 percent, and is in the process of developing web-based labor support tools for clinicians.