When signing onto the Connecticut Post this morning, I clicked on an article about St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport being deemed a “Baby Friendly” hospital in Connecticut. The standards for becoming a “baby friendly” hospital revolve around breastfeeding for new mothers and babies.
But what is not being discussed in this article are several factors that should be impacting mothers choices on having their babies at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. First being that St. V’s has the highest surgical birth rate in Connecticut. At 44.5% of all babies being born by cesarean section they hold the highest c-section rate in all of Connecticut. That is also accompanied by a ban on vaginal birth after cesarean. Meaning women cannot choose the kind of birth they may want if they have had a previous cesarean section. While their ban is not an official ban on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) it is what people in the birth community call a “defacto ban”. No provider on staff at St. Vincents will allow a mother a trial of labor after a previous surgical birth.
Why is this alarming for local women?
For several reasons. The World Health Organization recommends a cesarean birth rate for a hospital to be no higher than 15% including their high risk patients. St. Vincent’s exceeds this by nearly four times. Along with the fact that they are not allowing women to make medical decisions based on evidence based medicine which shows that VBAC or Vaginal Birth after Cesarean is safer for mother and baby than elective repeat cesarean sections.
Birth advocates in the state planned a protest in front of St. Vincents medical center earlier this spring but were unable to obtain a permit to stand on public sidewalks. With threats of arrest or tickets, local mothers opted not to exercise their first amendment right to assembly.
I hope women will take the time to research St. Vincent’s Medical Center more, and make an informed choice on where to give birth to their baby, rather than jumping at the chance to visit a “baby friendly” hospital.