Rate Your Doctor, Midwife and Place-of-Birth at The Birth Survey
Imagine this: a user-friendly website where, with free and easy access, mothers who have given birth within the last three years provide detailed feedback about their birth experiences at the one end, and parents-to-be will soon be able to retrieve the pooled reporting on local providers and facilities at the other end, all anonymously and nationwide. But no need to imagine, and this is a first! Take The Birth Survey, and the website tailors itself to your unique birth experience. When the results are published, the diverse data will help each consumer to find the care provider and birth setting most closely matching her health needs and lifestyle.
It’s essentially a “consumer report” for maternity care, created by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). Just as consumers have rated products and services online for years, The Birth Survey is a simple and effective way to find the information that promotes the best healthcare decisions. This kind of public reporting leads to transparency, and as the Institute of Medicine states, transparency is a key step to improved quality of care, improved consumer safety and informed choice.
The World Health Organization ranks the United States 41st in maternal mortality, and 29th in infant mortality among 141 developed countries (WHO, 2006). The WHO is talking about us…about mothers and babies in this country, where the publicly-held idea of healthcare has always been that we have the very best that’s available. There were more than four million births in the US last year; that’s four million mothers and four million babies who should be able to find optimal care, but as the dismal rankings by the WHO show, maternity care needs plenty of improvement.
Women who are deciding where and with whom to have their babies have had almost no information about rates of interventions and procedures being done in the various birth settings that they’re considering. Why does that matter? Research shows that your chances of having a cesarean or other procedure is increased (controlling for your health), if you use a facility that has higher rates of interventions, and if you should want to avoid such procedures you must find a facility that does fewer of them. How can a mother-to-be find out? Only New York and Massachusetts have laws requiring that hospitals release their intervention rates. The Birth Survey aims to collect intervention data on a state-by-state basis and will report that data in The Birth Survey results as it becomes available.
If you are the mom of an under-three, take the Survey and add your valuable opinions about your birth experience. If you would like to help get facility-level intervention data released in your state, consider becoming a CIMS Grassroots Advocacy Committee Ambassador. Get involved and register for a web training at http://www.thebirthsurvey.com/Training.html. Take the survey, download our postcards to give to mothers-to-be, find buttons and banners for your website, or refer a friend to www.thebirthsurvey.com.
The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services sees transparency as a benchmark for optimal care for birthing women, their babies and their families. As part of its Transparency in Maternity Care Project, The Birth Survey was brought to life through the volunteer efforts of the Grassroots Advocacy Committee (GAC), who share a powerful commitment to realizing transparency in maternity care. The Birth Survey is a voice for birthing women, a call for evidence-based, mother-friendly care, and a powerful tool to make informed choice the legitimate standard.
Jacqueline Levine, FACCE, LCCE, CD(DONA), CLC, teaches and works with underserved pregnant and nursing mothers at Planned Parenthood Long Island, NY and is co-chair of Marketing, Grassroots Advocacy Committee for The Birth Survey.