Becoming a new mom is one of the most special times of our lives and we want to help celebrate all new moms this Mother’s Day. Here are a few of our NAPPA Award-winning picks. For more gift inspiration, visit nappaawards.com
Recently, California State Senator Nancy Skinner introduced California’s version of the national “Momnibus,” remarking that “we must do more to protect Californians during childbirth.” With COVID-19 vaccine appointments now widely available, it may be easy to overlook other critical public health battles currently raging across the state. However, unnecessary C-sections have long been an issue in the U.S. and are a critical component of an overall battle plan against high maternal mortality rates.
While the World Health Organization recommends a C-section rate of 10-15%, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the U.S. average to be approximately 31%. These rates matter in the larger public health conversation on maternal health in that surgery can pose a serious risk for both infants (e.g., respiratory issues, ICU stays, infection) and their mothers (e.g., blood clots, hemorrhage). Though it’s a life-saving procedure in some circumstances, studies have found that C-sections are often a result of factors outside of necessity, such as misaligned payer incentives and even scheduling conflicts. Disparities also exist in the rates of unnecessary C-sections among Black and Asian women.
California is doing fairly well compared to others in taking bold steps to reduce C-section rates. However, sustaining momentum requires a team-based approach, which includes lawmakers. Hospital leaders and policymakers in California must engage in efforts to help improve the lives of California’s moms, including:
Publicizing (and benchmarking!) timely data. The Joint Commission is now publicly reporting hospital performance on C-section birth rates. This comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent action plan to improve maternal health, including reducing C-section rates by 25% in five years. By taking advantage of increasing data transparency requirements, hospitals can establish benchmarks to address high rates within their own settings. Many hospitals and hospital systems are currently working towards unblinding C-section rates among their departments, allowing site-specific quality improvement teams to champion lower rates and guide those with higher rates towards successful care models. Discussing individual C-section rates at a department level can help create peer pressure and friendly competition to move the needle. Quality improvement programs for C-section reduction can differ dramatically between hospitals, so solutions will need to be tailored and tracked according to the unique needs of each setting.
Rethinking care teams. Physician shortages continue to be an issue across the country, and OB/GYN is no exception. When it comes to reducing C-section rates, the provider is highly impactful in the final decision. Ensuring that care teams include providers trained in C-section reduction best practices can make a huge difference in outcomes. For example, physicians at the Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG) team up with hospitals throughout the country to ensure all patients have an OB physician during their labor and delivery, and work closely to implement quality measures in line with American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) best practices within the hospital. Because of these efforts, nearly half of OBHG’s current California hospital partners were among those recently recognized by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) for their maternal quality and engagement efforts, including achieving an average C-section rate for deliveries of 20.9% (well below the target for CMQCC). Additionally, reimagining the patient as a key component of the care team can be a game changer when it comes to improving maternal health.
Encouraging financial incentives that align with better maternal health. Policymakers and payers can create incentives for evidence-based interventions that can effectively reduce unnecessary C-sections. This includes continuing to invest in and expand existing review committees that collect and analyze data on maternal mortality rates, such as CMQCC, and exploring financial rewards for better outcomes, such as adopting value-based payment models for maternity care. Integrating incentives to encourage National Quality Forum-endorsed quality measures on C-sections into insurance requirements could also discourage high rates.
The success we’ve achieved thus far in California is encouraging, but there’s plenty more to be done. By encouraging more hospitals to take advantage of evidence-based resources and educating policymakers on investments that support value-based, high-quality care, California can reduce unnecessary C-section rates and foster a culture of patient-centered and equitable maternal care.
Dr. Amy VanBlaricom is the Ob Hospitalist Group Vice President, Clinical Operations for the West Coast, including California.
Sponsored Post by Mommy Bliss
While the pandemic has put adult immunity in the spotlight, the issue for babies is an evergreen one. Because the antibodies that a mother initially transfers to her baby don’t last more than a couple of months, an infant’s immune system is still developing. With so many new germs and frightening unknowns, more parents are looking for ways to help build up their baby’s immune system. Get ahead of the curve by supporting baby’s immunity early with these five easy yet trusted tips.
1. Focus on Good Food
A good immune system begins with a healthy diet that revolves around whole foods. When your baby starts eating solids, make sure you include fruits and vegetables that contain phytonutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Strawberries, blueberries, oranges, green beans, and carrots contain phytonutrients—as well as antioxidants.
2. Start a Supplement Strategy
Babies are notoriously fussy with food, and if you’re having trouble getting them to eat a balanced diet, it can be helpful to supplement their nutrition with products like Mommy’s Bliss’ Baby Multivitamin, which offer the daily value of vitamins C, D, E, B1, B2, and B6. Also, Organic Baby Elderberry Drops include antioxidant-rich vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc, and echinacea to support a baby’s immune system. And because breastfed babies can lack vitamin D, another great supplement is Organic Baby Vitamin D, which provides the daily amount of vitamins C and D recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
3. Partake in Probiotics
“Probiotics help re-balance our gut bacterial flora and ensure that our gut is functioning optimally,” pediatrician Dr. Smita Malhotra says. They help build a baby’s digestive and immune system. While it is important to talk to your doctor first, probiotics are safe for babies from day one. “In general, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, a strain that works well for children, is known for its safety, and has been widely studied,” Malhotra says. She recommends a daily dose of the easy-to-use Mommy’s Bliss Baby Probiotic Drops. If your baby is prone to colic, try the Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic Drops with Colic Support, which contains a clinically proven strain to help reduce crying time for babies with colic.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is an essential way for our bodies to develop a strong immune system. An infant may need up to sixteen hours of crib-time a day, and if you don’t already have a sleep routine that works for you and your baby, this is a good time to start one. If the stress and disruption of the pandemic has upended your family’s sleep routine, you are not alone, and sleep expert Nicole Cannon has some suggestions that may help you get back on track.
5. Guard Against Germs
Reduce the stress on your child’s immune system by reducing his/her exposure to germs. Wash your hands and your baby’s hands—with soap—before and after each meal and after playing outside, handling pets, blowing their nose, using the bathroom, and arriving home from daycare. Handwashing can be a fun and nurturing ritual, and it is also a way to make the practice a matter of course that you don’t have to teach (or nag about) later.
Supporting your baby’s developing immune system is critical, but parents should not feel overwhelmed. Good nutrition, enough sleep, and the right supplements go a long way in keeping babies’ and kids’ immune systems supported.