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Many states publish aggregate statistics on births for past years. Though they may lag behind a bit, these are valuable resources for families to get a sense of the wide variety of outcomes at different facilities. If you are expecting, even if it feels like the due date is fast approaching, please take the time to really think about what kind of birth you hope for. While a degree of flexibility in birthing (and parenting!) is always wise, we DO deserve to develop a vision of what we hope for. We also deserve to have our providers' wholehearted support of that vision.


Do you imagine the empowerment of an intimate homebirth with chosen midwives? Or the peace of a waterbirth at a free-standing birth center? Maybe you would feel safest with the full range of technology right at hand for you and your baby. A NICU and the specialists at a large facility might be just right for you. Have you been dreaming of a VBAC ever since your first birth? Whether you would prefer a medicated birth or an unmedicated one, high tech or high touch, I hope you will dig in and ask your provider some direct questions. Are they excited for your "plan A" with you, or are they just tolerating it? Is what you desire normal in their practice, or do you get a sense that deferring on a heplock or not routinely inducing at the due date is a stretch for them? Birthing is usually big work, and I hope you aren't also simultaneously having to negotiate for perfectly reasonable preferences. It is, after all, your body and your baby and your birth.

Switching hospitals and/or providers is usually less hassle than you would think. Here's a link to the latest statistics on births in Massachusetts. (Full PDF and past years here.) Individual facilities may be able to provide more categories of stats, such as epidural rate, pitocin use, induction rate, and waterbirth rate. If it matters to you, please ask soon. You only get to birth this baby once! Safety and satisfaction both matter, and they are not in opposition to each other.

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