Lee Health boosting education for first-time moms about C-sections

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Lee Health
Credit: WINK News.

When it comes to childbirth, a culture shift is in the works. In the United States, about one in three births occurs by cesarean section.

But that major surgery comes with risks and is often medically unnecessary.

“My husband and I decided not to find out the gender before we had her, and so that was just an unbelievable moment for him to be able to tell me it’s a girl,” explained mother Kelsey Valdez. “She’s perfect. Her name is Georgia May, and she was born on May 31, seven pounds, six ounces, 20 and a half inches long.”

Finding out baby Georgia’s gender was welcomed surprise for Valdez, a first-time mother. But when it came to her delivery, she knew she needed a plan.

(Left to right) Baby Georgia May and the Valdezes. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

“You know it’s going to hurt,” Valdez said. “You know it’s going to be painful, no matter what. So yeah, I definitely, definitely had moments of fear.”

“For a lot of first-time mommies, there’s definitely fear involved,” said Dr. Chadwick Leo, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Lee Health. “We fear what we don’t know.”

Leo says that fear can drive first-time moms to schedule unnecessary C-sections.

“There are situations where it’s necessary for the life of the mother, for the life of the child,” Leo said. “But as an elective intervention, as an initial approach, it is not the best way.”

“We see that there are more complications that can occur from such interventions,” Leo said. “Placentation can be abnormal. The placenta can get really stuck to the uterus. That can have bleeding abnormalities … That may limit the growth of your family.”

As with other major surgeries, C-sections also carry the risk of infection, blood clots and long recovery times.

Research finds babies delivered via C-section also have an increased risk of certain chronic diseases, including asthma, obesity and diabetes.

“It’s not that we don’t want to do C-sections because we have them there as a tool for people that need them,” said Nancy Travis, the director of women’s services at Lee Health. “But we are trying to prevent that first C-section, so that that prevents complications later on.”

That’s why Travis works to lower Lee Health’s C-section rate for low-risk, first-time moms.

“Our rate was 5.9%, which is pretty incredible,” Travis said. “The national benchmark for the NTSV cesarean is less than 23.6%.”

Travis says, in May, Lee Health achieved that rate through education and incentives such as its new “provide cart.”

From massagers, to stress balls and aromatherapy, the cart gives moms-to-be tools to remain calm and in control as they prepare for delivery.

“The second that I got there, they looked at me and they said, ‘OK, so how do you want to do this? What are some of your goals?'” Valdez said. “By the time I got into that room, I pushed in every position possible. They made it feasible for me. They got me a birth ball. And then, I labored in the bathtub for a while.”

“What helped me was, ‘I’m doing this for my baby; I am doing this for my baby,’ Valdez explained. “Every contraction, ‘I’m going through this for my baby.'”

After giving birth naturally, Valdez says she has no regrets.

“It was everything I wanted it to be , 10 out of 10 experience,” Valdez said. “It sounds scary, and it sounds like a lot of trauma. But again, you’re a woman, Your body’s made for this. You can rest assured that you can do it. You’re capable of it.”

“I would definitely love to have more kids,” Valdez said. “I say three, but he says two. So we’ll see what happens.”

Some of the health risks posed by C-sections come about during a woman’s second pregnancy.

Lee Health says it’s the subsequent pregnancies where moms can experience bleeding problems and the placenta attaching in the wrong places.

According to LeapFrog’s latest “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” report, Florida has the country’s fifth highest C-section rate for low-risk, first time moms.

Florida’s rate is 27.8%, which means more than 1 out of 4 women are having C-sections when it isn’t medically necessary. Florida’s rate is higher than the national goal of 23.6% or less.

Lee Health is working on another amenity to make delivery more comfortable for moms in labor.

Movement is important, so a new walking path for labor is in the works. There will be stops along the path with QR codes that pull up videos giving the moms tips on what they can do to make themselves more comfortable.


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