The other day I discovered a postcard at my local yoga center urging women to participate in a birth survey, which instantly piqued my interest; apparently this survey has already been going on for some time, although I have only now heard about it. A little research has revealed that the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) has launched a new program entitled The Transparency in Maternity Care Project, which is intended to research and explore maternity care in this country, with an emphasis on improving the transparency of maternity care. Unlike other areas of medicine, hospitals and maternity care providers are still pretty cagey when it comes to being open with their numbers. What is the c-section rate for specific doctors or hospitals? What is the VBAC rate? How many providers perform episiotomies? How many elective cesareans or inductions occur annually? Hard numbers like this are always notoriously hard to come by. And of coruse, beyond the actual numbers themselves, women’s experiences with maternity care providers and services and overall satisfaction is often something which is overlooked. It seems like The Transparency in Maternity Care Project is trying to fix all of that, and is acting as a follow-up to the Listening to Mothers surveys which occurred in 2002 and 2006. Like Listening to Mothers I and II, a survey lies at the heart of The Transparency in Maternity Care Project, which can be found at the following website: www.TheBirthSurvey.com. The pilot survey is occurring in New York City right now, between July 2007 and July 2008.
- There were many reasons to choose New York City as our pilot site.
First: New York is a large, high profile city offering a wide variety of birth options.
It is a densely populated and well-networked urban center. There is easy access to multiple press/media outlets. Approximately 125,000 births occur in NYC per year. Forty-four hospitals provide maternity care services. The majority of the country’s obstetricians are trained in NYC. Two Free-standing Birth Centers are in operation. An established homebirth community thrives. Nearly 10% of births in NY are attended by midwives.
Second: The Grassroots Advocates Committee will be piloting the project in partnership with Choices in Childbirth (CIC), an active grassroots organization based in NYC.
CIC is well connected with the NYC birth community. CIC publishes The New York Guide to a Healthy Birth – in 2007, 20,000 copies advertising The Birth Survey will be distributed free to the public. A member of the GAC and CIC is based in NYC and will be engaged in the day-to-day oversight of the pilot.
Third: New York State is one of only two states with a Maternity Information Act.
The MIA provides the public with legal access to intervention rates at the facility level. Choices in Childbirth is connected with the NYS Department of Health and has already collected the intervention rates for all New York hospitals.
So, if you live in NYC and have given birth in NYC, here’s your chance to discuss your experience and provide valuable information and feedback about birth in our country. Please participate in the birth survey ASAP. As for the rest of the country, the project plans to unveil a national survey next summer, but if you’re super motivated, you can provide feedback about your birth experience at www.drscore.com.