Ready to make a big purchase, like a car? Where does your thought process begin? First, you’ll likely consider the costs and your family’s needs. Then, the benefits—is it fast? Well-made? High quality? So, what about the benefits and options of where you will give birth to your baby?  This decision certainly deserves thoughtful consideration. If you’re curious about where to start, The Leapfrog Group has got you covered.

Rating Maternity Care in Hospitals

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization making giant leaps in keeping patients safe, ensuring they receive quality care, and holding healthcare organizations accountable.

The Leapfrog Hospital Survey evaluates hospital regarding established national safety, quality and efficiency measures. Anyone can access those results at to inform their healthcare choices.

Hospital Outcomes May Surprise You

The Hospital Survey reports performance in key areas of maternity care including:

  • Cesarean rates among first-time moms
  • Cesarean births for moms giving birth for the first time
  • Scheduled cesarean births
  • Labor inductions before 39-weeks gestation without a medical reason
  • Episiotomies: an incision made between the vagina and the anus to widen the vaginal opening to avoid tearing during vaginal childbirth
  • Screening newborns for jaundice before discharge home
  • Blood clot prevention in patients undergoing cesarean surgery
  • High-risk births, such as premature babies

Leapfrog can help you make better decisions by sharing information about a hospital’s maternity care services.

Ask your pregnancy care provider whether the hospital where you will give birth has the following professionals or practices:

  • Are certified nurse-midwives available for birth?
  • Do you have or can I bring a doula for support during labor and birth?
  • Will my breastfeeding choices be honored?
  • Can I talk with a lactation consultant if I have concerns?
  • How many patients have you helped have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
  • Can I choose to have postpartum tubal ligation

Where Does Maternity Care in the United States Rank?

There’s a collective effort from families, healthcare providers, advocates, and government agencies to reduce the high rates of poor maternal healthcare results in the .. Currently, the U.S. ranks last in maternal and infant outcomes among all industrialized countries. Maternal and infant harms and deaths continue to increase in number, according to federal data.

Improvements in care in certain parts of the U.S. include:

  • Providers no longer perform episiotomies routinely. Leapfrog reports the rate has declined by 60% and finally meets the Leapfrog standard.
  • Most hospitals continue to reduce or eliminate early elective births, coming in well below Leapfrog’s standard of 5%. This aligns with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)’s recommendation of waiting for labor to start on its own and “Going the Full 40” weeks of pregnancy.
  • Cesarean births for first-time mothers remains high, but there is progress.

Although cesarean can be a life-saving surgery, it comes with risks to infants such as breathing problems, and infections. Risks to mothers also include infection, as well as excessive bleeding, and needing readmission to the hospital for recovery care.

The importance of public reporting has played a major role in reducing unnecessary interventions during childbirth and improving the quality of maternity care offered in U.S. hospitals. Leapfrog is the leading advocacy group reporting on maternity care outcomes by hospital, including the quality of maternity care services.

How Can I Use Leapfrog Maternity Data?

The Leapfrog Group has a Maternity Care Tool that you can use to check hospitals in your area according to your unique needs. The search includes hospitals that meet Leapfrog’s quality standards and/or that offer services such as having certified nurse-midwives, letting you bring in your own doula, or having breastfeeding/lactation assistance.

You can search for hospitals near you simply by entering your zip code, and you can even compare hospitals.

Many hospitals are willing to share their data with the public, others do not.

The Joy of Childbirth

Giving birth to your baby is one of life’s most rewarding experiences, and the type of care you receive in the hospital can vary greatly. You deserve to be respected, listened to, and cared for every step of the way. Use Leapfrog’s Hospital Survey results to ensure that you choose the best hospital for your baby’s birth.

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Katie Burggraf Stewart is Director of Health Care Ratings at The Leapfrog Group

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