Montana birth stats revisited

In September I posted twice about local birth statistics.  You can read them here and here.  Since the CDC released a preliminary report for 2006, I thought I should review some interesting data from 2004 and 2005 (source).

Montana (state-wide) cesarean rates:
2004 – 25.3%
2005 – 25.7%
2006 – 28% (preliminary estimate)
I find it interesting that 85% of Montana cesareans in 2004 and 86% of cesareans in 2005 took place in counties with 100,000 or more residents.  Granted, high-risk pregnancies would transfer to larger hospitals and might be more susceptible to cesarean delivery.

Montana (state-wide) VBAC rates:
2004 – 1.4%
2005 – n/a
2006 – n/a (yet?)
I’m not sure why the CDC didn’t provide the 2005 VBAC figures.  Could it be that VBAC is so rare that it was statistically insignificant to report?

Only 16 VBACs took place at Missoula’s Community Hospital in 2006.  That was about 1% of their live birth population.  Yikes!  Double yikes when you consider that Community is one of a small handful of hospitals across the state that still allow VBACs.

Place of delivery (2005):*
57 of 1850 births in Missoula County took place outside of a hospital.  And I’m not sure that the Birth Center was even up and running at that time.  This accounts for 3.1% of the live birth population.  This slim percentage is at least twice the national average, from what I’ve heard.
44 of 240 births (18.3%) in nearby Ravalli County took place outside of a hospital.  Now I call that statistically significant!
The state out of hospital rate was 2.5%.

Although Montana’s cesarean rate is a few percentage points below the national average (estimated at 31.1% in 2006), it still greatly exceeds the recommended level of 10-15% established by the World Health Organization.  Cesarean rates above 15% reflect an abuse of the life-saving medical procedure.  Cesarean surgery is a major abdominal surgery with its own tangible list of risks.

* Data obtained from Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services

ICAN of Greater Missoula

It’s official.  There’s no turning back now.  I have succeeded in starting a local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.  I consider my area to include Missoula Valley, the Bitterroot Valley (at least to Hamilton), down the Hellgate Canyon (like to Clinton), and out to Arlee.  Really anyone who wants to get to a meeting that is in the area is welcome to attend!  We are the first and only chapter in Montana though I know that there are women in Helena and Billings working to start chapters too.

I wrote down a short list of goals the other day:

  1. Help women (and men) in my area know that there are choices to be made with regard to prenatal care and childbirth
  2. Raise awareness – the cesarean rate at Community Hospital is not good – 30+%; according to hospital sources, there were only 16 VBACs performed at Community last year
  3. Encourage pregnant women to seek out independent childbirth education; be a local facilitator for natural childbirth support
  4. Plant seeds at the University – it is never too early to become educated about the childbirth industry

I’ve started a website for ICAN of Greater Missoula.  There’s nothing there yet, but give me a few sleepless nights, and it’ll look great.  I love Terapad!  Anyone who is interested in knowing more about ICAN of Greater Missoula can e-mail ICANofMissoula ([at]) gmail [(dot)] com.

I’m currently planning a screening of The Business of Being Born, a documentary feature film directed by Abby Epstein (Ricki Lake, Executive Producer).  This will be the inaugural event and fundraiser for ICAN of Greater Missoula.  I’m so excited and nervous about all of this!  I still don’t have a date and venue secured (though one is available to me), and this all has to happen within the next 3 weeks or so.  Aaaah!  Eeeek!  But I know it’ll get done, and I’ve already been offered support and assistance.  Thank goodness for angels!

We will hold monthly meetings.  The first couple of meetings (November & December) will be informational and women can share birth stories and ask questions.  Then I will start a series (beginning in January) called Choices in Childbirth and bring in guest speakers from the community.  Topics I think we’ll start with include Prenatal Care, Selecting Care Providers, and Where to Birth.