“The release of a consensus statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) is a critical step in reducing the number of cesarean births among pregnant women in the United States who have not previously had this procedure. This statement has the potential to encourage system-wide change, which is long overdue. We applaud ACOG and SMFM for coming together and issuing this essential guidance.
It concludes that long-time assumptions about the normal length of labor, which have been refuted by new research, contribute to unnecessary cesarean births. It identifies ways to reduce cesareans that follow labor induction procedures. It also determines that differences in provider practices are a main factor behind substantial geographic variations in the rate of cesarean births, reiterating the need to standardize evidence-based care. Importantly, the statement includes much-needed evidence-based clinical guidance for providers about practices that can be used to safely decrease the likelihood of cesarean births.
The consensus statement has the potential to be a game-changer in ongoing efforts to improve the quality of maternal health care, and maternal and child health outcomes. To achieve the aim of preventing unneeded cesareans, clinicians, women and families, hospitals, health plans and other stakeholders will need to work together. Childbirth Connection Programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families has many resources that can facilitate this work and looks forward to continuing to work with the various parties to achieve this aim. A changing health care culture can benefit women, children and families tremendously by improving the quality of maternity care, improving health and reducing health care costs.”