Giving Birth in a Hospital Is Riskier Than You Think

hospital birth

While hospitals may still be the most popular place to give birth, a new study suggests that hospitals aren't as safe as they could be. That's according to the Maternity Care Report by the nonprofit watchdog Leapfrog Group, which surveyed the quality of 1,501 hospitals across the U.S., and found them lacking on various fronts.

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Here are a few highlights (or rather, downlights) from the report:

Early elective delveries: This is when labor is induced or the baby is delivered by C-section before 39 weeks when not medically necessary -- which can cause complications for both mother and child. While only 3.4 percent of births at hospitals occur by early elective delivery, in certain hospitals that rate can spike as high as 30 percent.

Episiotomies: This incision at the vaginal opening to get the baby out was once fairly routine. And while rates have dipped, researchers found that more than one third of hospitals are still performing too many.

Low birth weight babies: Babies born at very low birth weight often have special needs in NICU, yet less than one fourth of hospitals are adequately prepared to care for them. Yikes!

More from The Stir: 15 Reasons to Have a Hospital Birth

Granted, the report concedes that the safety and quality of hospital births have definitely improved over the years. Still, they leave a lot to be desired, so be sure to shop around, and consider all your options.

The take-home lesson for moms: don't assume that just because you're in a hospital, you and your baby are guaranteed high-quality care. When I was pregnant, I decided to have my baby delivered in a hospital since I figured it would be the safest place on the planet. I was in for a rude reality check when my birth ended up less than ideal. While everything turned out fine in the end, the experience definitely opened my eyes to the fact that hospitals are far from perfect. Here's to hoping they'll raise the bar.

How do you feel about hospital births?

 

Image via nata-lunata/shutterstock

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