New York State’s Maternity Information Law requires each hospital to provide the following information about its childbirth practices and procedures. This information can help you better understand what you can expect, learn more about your childbirth choices, and plan for your baby’s birth.
Most of the information is given in percentages of all deliveries occurring in the hospital during a given year. For example, if 20 births out of 100 are by Cesarean section, the Cesarean section rate will be 20%. If external fetal monitoring is used in 50 out of 100 births, or one-half of all births, the rate will be 50%.
This information, alone, doesn’t tell you that one hospital is better than another for you. If a hospital has fewer than 200 births per year, the use of special procedures in just a few births could change its rates. The types of births could affect the rates as well. Some hospitals offer specialized services to women who are expected to have complicated or high-risk births, or whose babies are not expected to develop normally. These hospitals can be expected to have higher rates of the special procedures than hospitals that do not offer these services.
This information also does not tell you about your doctor’s or nurse-midwife’s practice. However, the information can be used when discussing your wishes with your doctor or nurse-midwife, and to find out if his or her use of special procedures is similar to or different from that of the hospital.
You should play an active role in making your childbirth the kind of experience you want. To do so, you need information. Take part in childbirth preparation classes and read books about childbirth. Ask questions and discuss your choices and wishes with your doctor or nurse-midwife. Information about things you can do to have a healthy baby is available at:
http//:www.health.ny.gov. A free booklet, Your Guide to a Healthy Birth, is also available by writing: New York State Department of Health, Box 2000, Albany, NY 12220.