A safer birth for mothers and babies

September 3, 2015

This week we were excited to announce that Washington’s cesarean section (C-section) rates are at their lowest levels since 2003, dropping 11 percent between 2010 and 2014 for low-risk, first-birth pregnancies. This is wonderful news for Washington families, as C-sections are associated with higher rates of complications for mothers and babies, meaning delivery is becoming safer in Washington State.

C-section rates have largely been on the rise in recent decades, partially due to the fact that the population of pregnant mothers is changing, as women of childbearing age may now be older or heavier, or enter pregnancy with other health complications. The improvement work has centered on putting evidence-based practices into place to provide supportive, best-practice care. The work includes reducing early inductions, making sure the mother is ready before inductions and other important strategies.

Achieving this reduction has been years in the making alongside our collaborators: the Washington State Healthcare AuthorityWashington State Perinatal Collaborativethe Department of Healththe Robert Bree Collaborativethe Foundation for Health Care Qualityand the Department of Social and Health Services. Together we have identified best practices, analyzed data and given information to providers to help them improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of their maternity care. Also, in 2013, we spearheaded the collaborative Safe Deliveries Roadmap, implementing an evidence-based practices guide to care from pre-pregnancy through one month after delivery, helping Washington become the first state to take this approach.

These numbers reflect our success, and the success of our collaborators, as we have already surpassed our 2016 statewide goal of a 14.7-percent C-section rate. We will continue to take a leading role on this issue, making delivery even safer for mothers and babies, ensuring that our youngest residents get off to a great start. Read more here in our press release.

Carol Wagner
WSHA Senior Vice President for Patient Safety


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Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

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206.283.6122 fax


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