Leading the way to safer childbirth

Our OB team uses fewer interventions, from C-sections to labor induction, leading to healthier moms and newborns

July 23, 2015
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

When you’re having a baby, what should you look for in a hospital? A medical team with the expertise to handle any complications that may arise for you and your baby is on the top of the list. But there are other markers of top-notch maternity care.

Interventions like cesarean sections, episiotomies and induced labor before 39 weeks have become almost routine at many hospitals—even when they’re not medically necessary. But studies show that mothers and newborns have better outcomes when hospitals use these interventions sparingly.

UCI Health has among the lowest cesarean section rates for low-risk pregnancies in the region: 22 percent, beating the national goal (24 percent) and the Orange County average (29 percent).†

“C-sections are invasive and major surgery, so there are risks,” says UCI Health perinatologist, Dr. Manuel Porto, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Women who deliver vaginally go home sooner, recover faster and have less risk of complications. Also, babies have fewer health problems and are less likely to require intensive care.

Even if you’ve had a C-section previously, chances are you can deliver vaginally next time with the right preparation and care. The rate of vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC, is 25 percent at UCI Health, twice that of other Orange County hospitals. “We actively support women who aspire to VBAC,” Porto says.

UCI Health experts also handle more multiple births than elsewhere in the region. And for women whose families are complete, UC Irvine Medical Center is one of the few local hospitals providing tubal ligation after delivery or C-section, if necessary.

Episiotomies are also performed less frequently. These incisions, which enlarge the vaginal opening just before delivery, can increase the risk of more extensive tears into the rectum. At UC Irvine Medical Center, the episiotomy rate was 3.3 percent last year, compared to an Orange County average of 29 percent.

Keeping babies from arriving too soon is critical for their health. That’s why inducing labor without medical necessity before 39 weeks shouldn’t occur unless absolutely necessary. “We’ve done zero in the past two years,” says Porto. “We give our maternity patients the best of both worlds. As little intervention as possible is best for mother and baby. But when complications arise, our expert team is ready for action.”

Visit ucirvinehealth.org/maternity for a list of UCI Health obstetricians and services.

†California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, Nov. 2013 to Oct. 2014 

— UCI Health Marketing & Communications
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UCI Health Summer 2015

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