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The Secret to Lowering C-Section Rates? Patience.

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   August 01, 2017

The perinatal director at SSM St. Mary's Hospital shares how the organization achieves C-section rates well below the national average.

Patience is a virtue—especially when it comes to achieving low C-section rates.

"Presence and patience," says Pam Lesser, RNC-AWH, MSN, director, perinatal services, at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital–St. Louis.

"We need to support women and be present and available to them to help them have the birth they want but also keep things safe. Then we also need to be patient enough to say, 'If everything's looking fine, there's no reason to be moving ahead to any decisions here. We can sit and watch a little longer, and we can try a couple of different things."

This go-with-the flow philosophy seems to be paying off for St. Mary's Hospital.

According to a May 2017 Consumer Reports investigation, at 12%, the organization has the second lowest C-section rate in the country for first-time, low-risk mothers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' national benchmark is 23.9% for low-risk births.

Nursing Presence and Support

There are many things that go into creating an environment that keeps C-section rates in check. The standard course of care at St. Mary's Hospital includes no elective inductions before 39 weeks of gestation, avoiding unnecessary elective inductions, and not putting time limits on deliveries.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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