2009 Cesarean Statistics: What’s Happening in the Lehigh Valley (1 of 4)

Early in my career in childbirth, I could expect to see the previous year’s release of “vital” birth statistics show up on the PA Department of Health website by July or August. In past years for some reason the release of this data has gotten slower and slower. You may recall that the data for 2008 was released just before Christmas 2009.

Well the 2009 data was not quite so prompt. I waited for it not so patiently. I finally decided about 2 weeks ago while looking for the data late in the evening that I would call the Department of Health–but obviously I couldn’t call right then. When I did call, I was told that it was just put on the website the previous day. Amazingly, it had been—I just had kept the webpage open on my computer for several days before I remembered to call, and had not refreshed it. I did ask the representative I spoke with why it was taking so long to publish data, and all she could tell me was what I was told a few years ago—“improvements” with the birth certificate in 2003 have changed how data is collected. Hmmm…interesting “improvements.”

Well, with no further ado, here is the beginning of my evaluation of the 2009 data. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 2:44 am.


2008 PA Cesarean Statistics are Now Available! (1 of 4)

In an early Christmas present, the PA Department of Health has released birth data for 2008, including cesarean statistics by hospital.

The cesarean rate in PA in 2008 rose just under 3% over 2007, going from 30.05% to 30.86%.  Most likely this will still keep us under the national average…but just barely.  The VBAC rate dropped from 13.8% to 13.3%.  

Looking more local to the Lehigh Valley, some of the results are very sobering.  Overall, the combined data for the 5 hospitals in the Lehigh Valley with maternity units saw their cesarean rate Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 12:43 am.


Was Joy Szabo’s birth a “victory?”

You may recall that I blogged about Joy Szabo 2 months ago.  At the time, she was pregnant, and was seeking media coverage because she had learned that the hospital closest to her, Page Hospital in Arizona, was denying her request to VBAC.  Ms. Szabo’s case was particularly troublesome because the nearest hospital to her that would “allow” VBAC was in Phoenix, a 6 hour drive from her home, and Ms. Szabo already had 2 vaginal births, so certainly would be expected to have good odds for being able to achieve her desired VBAC.  Having the cesarean would actually have put her baby and herself at a higher risk of complications than having a VBAC would.

Unfortunately, Ms. Szabo’s situation is far from unusual.  Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 1:58 am.


Hospital Policy Pains Expectant Mother

The Lake Powell Chronicle, a newspaper in Arizona, carried an article recently highlighting the plight of a woman who has had 3 previous births–the first a vaginal birth, the second a cesarean, and the 3rd a VBAC.  Now, expecting her 4th child, she is being told that she must consent to a repeat cesarean because her local hospital (Page) has determined that it can not handle any possible emergencies that a VBAC might bring. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 12:20 am.


“Spa-like atmosphere”

The Morning Call has a new parenting blog which has had some interesting posts.  A recent one though, I found to be mildly amusing.  The post, which I’d say is little more than an advertisement, gushes with enthusiasm about the new maternity unit opening at Grandview Hospital which is supposedly “spa like.”  Actually, I discovered that some of the text of the blog post is lifted directly from the hospital website–without acknowledgment. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 4:34 pm.


Do You Doula?

This is a fabulous video that was put together as a part of a contest for birth support videos.  I think it has a powerful message.

Do You Doula

Posted 6 years, 8 months ago at 11:45 pm.

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What is Midwifery?

A friend expecting her second baby this coming October recently lamented to me in an e-mail:

…most of the women who go to OBs do not know – or at least believe popular misconceptions – about what midwives do. Every woman would want midwifery care for herself and baby if they knew what it truly was…. All the women I know who used midwives were women who wanted individualized care and somebody to be there to support them through their whole birth experience. Somebody who knew them and who they trusted; rather than a practice where you rotate through providers and get whoever is on call. Some had natural births, some with epidurals, etc. but the most important aspect was that relationship and better care. (Jennifer Harper)

A Pioneer Midwife in Pennsylvania

A Pioneer Midwife in Pennsylvania

As a childbirth educator and a doula, and most importantly as a mom of 5 children, I couldn’t help but Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 8 months ago at 1:29 am.

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Birth in the News

Recently 3 major news organizations have had articles about birth related issues:  The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time magazine.  All of these articles have merit, but also have some short comings, which I’d like to address.

LA Times

The LA Times article, Childbirth:  Can the US Improve?, I thought was over all very good.  I liked that it featured a mom who not only had to look around to find a Dr. willing to support her VBAC, but that she successfully birthed a reasonably large baby (8 lbs 11 oz) vaginally.  I thought it dealt with the risks of cesarean and interventions very well, such as the increased risk of “ICU” admissions (that should be “NICU) for babies with planned births–that is, planned inductions or planned cesareans.  They pointed out that when some hospitals institute rules banning “planned” deliveries prior to 39 weeks that are not medically indicated, NICU admissions dropped by 46%.  Amazing.  Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Roger A. Rosenblatt, a University of Washington professor of family medicine who has written about what he calls  Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 8 months ago at 11:38 pm.

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A Poll About Birth at Lehigh Valley Hospital

I’m going to do a bit of an informal poll on births at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Here is what I would like from you…please tell me about births that you have DIRECT knowledge of at Lehigh Valley Hospital in 2007, 2008, and 2009. That is, either you were at the birth, or you were told about the birth by someone who was at the birth.

What I would like to have is the year of the birth, the first name and last initial of the mother (this is so that I can make sure I’m not counting the same birth more than once), what baby this was for the mother, whether the primary care provider was a midwife or OB, and whether the birth was cesarean or vaginal. So that would look like this:

2007 Donna B first OB cesarean
2007 Jan H first midwife vaginal
2008 Renee C first OB vaginal
2009 Lynn D. second OB vaginal

I’m hoping to collect data on at least 200 births (and have gotten info on 25 so far on Facebook)…so…can you help me?

Thank you!

May 21:  An update on the stats so far….I have data now on 52 births.

Overall cesarean rate: 36.5%
Midwife cesarean rate: 16.0%
OB cesarean rate: 55.6%

Half of this data is from midwife attended births…but The Midwives attended less than 3% of births at LVH in 2008…so you can expect that LVH’s cesarean rate is much closer to the OB cesarean rate than the “overall” rate.  I will note that I suspect that there might be a bias in the OB data in that women who have a cesarean birth for their first baby and then were seeing The Midwives for a planned VBAC might be highly represented in the data set…yet another reason for me to want data on a LOT of births.

Posted 6 years, 8 months ago at 8:19 pm.

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In Honor of Mothers’ Day, a Film Showing

I will be hosting a showing of the film “Born in the USA” on Sunday, May 17 at 6 p.m.  Yes, that’s a week after Mothers’ Day…but I expect to be busy with my kids on Mothers’ Day.  😉

I have used snippets of this film in my childbirth classes for a few years, but have never shown the full length feature since there simply is not enough time for that in my classes.  However, I’m excited to invite people to join me in watching the film, then an open discussion afterward.   The film was produced for PBS, and looks at low-risk childbirth in America in a hospital setting with an obstetrician care provider, an out-of-hospital birth center with a certified nurse midwife (CNM), and homebirths with a licensed midwife.

This showing is open to anyone, whether you have children or not.  There will be a period of discussion following the film.  Contact me for more information!

Posted 6 years, 9 months ago at 3:33 pm.


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