Giving Birth in Philadelphia
Where and how to deliver a baby in the Delaware Valley
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Giving birth is as old as time itself, yet just like fashion, maternity trends come and go. Whether you’re about to have your first baby or your first baby in a few years, here’s the latest on where and how to have a baby in the Delaware Valley.
After a rash of maternity unit closures several years ago, there are currently six hospitals delivering babies in Philadelphia. While the reduction in maternity wards led many to worry about a shortage of providers, insiders say worst fears haven’t been realized.
Indeed, claims Arnold W. Cohen, MD, chairman of the Department of OB/GYN at Philly’s Albert Einstein Medical Center, “The quality of care has actually improved.” He cites as proof the fact that a doctor dubbed a “laborist” remains on the labor floor 24/7, to address spur-of-the-moment occurrences — from emergencies to early arrivals — and provide additional reassurance for new parents.
One recent trend that obstetrical experts have their eye on is the high rate of Cesarean sections performed in American hospitals. It’s so much of a concern that in February the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a statement with the goal of reducing C-sections. In 2011, one in three women gave birth via C-section. In New Jersey, that rate has been as high as 40 percent. An estimated half of these were performed on women with low-risk pregnancies who likely could have given birth nonsurgically, some of whom scheduled elective procedures to deliver at a time convenient to family or doctor.
“Elective primary C-sections were a very short trend,” says Marian Thallner, senior vice president overseeing maternity services at Holy Redeemer Health System in Meadowbrook, PA. Due to recent education efforts touting vaginal delivery as the optimal route for first-time moms with no medical indication, fewer women are scheduling elective procedures.
Another related stat that’s shrinking is the number of women who’ve had a C-section yet try labor with a subsequent baby. “In the last five years or so the pendulum has swung back,” says Elizabeth M. Zadzielski, MD, the medical director of Christiana Care Health System's Women’s Health Ambulatory Services in Newark, DE. “We very much support a trial of labor after a C-section.”