SSM Health Medical Minute – Avoiding C-Sections

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SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond Heights is scoring high marks for its low rate of cesarean section deliveries.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 1,300 hospitals and SSM Health St. Mary's had the second lowest overall.

C-section rate among low-risk moms of 12.3 percent, far below the national target rate of about 24 percent. Doctor Greg Ward, SLUCARE OB/GYN at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital, says their philosophy is be patient with the patient.

"We know the labor that starts off on its own has a higher rate of kind of resulting in a vaginal delivery, where as if we are inducing the process or forcing the issue, we do kind of predispose ourselves to a higher rate of cesarean section," she said.

Doctor Ward says some C-sections are necessary and can be live saving,
but if a low risk woman and baby are doing okay in labor giving the expectant mom more time is beneficial.

"Giving patients a longer time in labor before declaring the need for a cesarean section. We used to use four centimeters as a cutoff for the active phase of labor. Newer data suggest we should be using six centimeters. We're patient; we don't put a time limit on the labor process,” Ward said. “The way our practice structure is set up we don't necessarily have to leave the hospital at a certain time. We have physicians here 24 hours a day and we're just dedicated to the patient care."

The SSM Health Medical Minute is reported by Dan Gray every Thursday on KPLR News 11 at 7 PM and KTVI Fox 2 News at 9 PM.