Inclusive

We have many clients that ask us which hospital in the Seattle area is the best hospital to give birth at. While we have our personal opinions of hospitals, nurses, and doctors we’ve had great experiences with, we also love to see data that helps inform our recommendations, especially if  you have a specific type of birth in mind. The Washington State Department of Health just released data on c-section and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC birth) rates for January 2022- June 2022. You can see the full report here. This information can be a valuable resource to guide your choice of where to give birth.

Reading the Hospitals in Seattle Washington Report on C-section and VBAC birth

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a baby being cradled with a parent's hand on their head with a very light pink background with peach water color circles and gold glitter accents

As you delve into the report, there are a few key factors to bear in mind. To begin, the hospitals are categorized according to the level of care they offer. Hospitals are graded from level 1 (offering less complex care) to level 4 (equipped to handle more complex cases).

When comparing each hospital in Seattle, it’s important to match hospitals of the same level for a fair assessment. This means comparing level 1 hospitals with other level 1 hospitals, level 2 with 2, and so on.

It’s worth noting that comparing a level 1 hospital with a level 4 hospital might lead to skewed outcomes due to the varying complexities of cases they handle.

On first glance, the first and second pages of the report may seem similar, but there is an important difference. The first graph is the C-Sections for Single Live Full-Term Head-First Births to First-Time Parents (NTSV) (what a mouthful!), while the second graph is the Primary C-Sections Among Term Singleton Vertex (TSV) Deliveries.

The difference between these two graphs is that the first one is for first-time parents, while the second is for all births.

The third page of the report, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) rates, groups hospitals by region instead of level of care.

It’s still helpful to consider what the level of care might be provided by the hospital, but generally only non-complex pregnancies are allowed to attempt a VBAC, so the level comparison is less necessary here. 

On the VBAC chart, the higher the percentage, the higher the number of successful VBACs. The statewide average for VBACs is 27.8%. This means that when a birthing person has a first birth that is a cesarean, for the second birth, 27.8% of them are successful vaginal births. 

What is a good c-section rate at hospitals in Seattle Washington & surrounding areas? 

 

In the January 2022 to June 2022 time period, the statewide rate of c-sections is 26.6%, while the US Department of Health and Human Services has the Health People 2030 goal of 23.6%. A recent study suggests that the optimal c-section rate is 19%. Meaning that the best outcomes for birthing person and baby were when c-sections occurred 19% of the time. Higher c-section rates did not lead to better outcomes. Numbers below this and below that of other comparable hospitals are good c-section rates.

What is the best hospital in Seattle and surrounding areas for a vaginal birth? 

For those seeking the Seattle-area hospital with the lowest c-section rate for single full-term head-first births to first-time parents, Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Renton, Washington stands out as a strong choice.

What hospital in the Seattle area should I choose for a VBAC? 

When it comes to selecting a hospital in the Seattle area for a VBAC, UW Medical Center – Northwest emerges as a top contender.

However, it’s worth noting that while UW Medical Center – Northwest recorded 47 successful VBACs, Providence Regence Medical Center Everett – Pacific achieved a commendable 191 successful VBACs, surpassing the statewide average of 27.8%.

What if I can’t have the hospital with the best rates? 

While this kind of data is really helpful in making informed decisions, it still looks at information at a population level and won’t determine the outcome of your birth.

You can and should still prepare and work to find a care provider that will support the birth that you want.

Check out our free download on how to build a care team that will support you. Hiring a doula is another great way to help support you in having the birth that you want. See our blog about questions to ask a doula here. 

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a mother and father cradling each other and a newborn on the father's shoulder with a beige background with green water color circle and gold glitter accents

What about a vaginal birth at Seattle area birth centers? Could I have a vaginal birth at home?

Birth centers don’t report statistics the same way that hospitals are required to. Birth centers also serve lower risk clients. They can be a great alternative to hospital birth for many families. If you are interested in a birth center, you can ask what their transfer to hospital rates are and if they serve VBAC clients.

However, it’s also good to remember that since birth centers serve low risk to clients, their transfer rate is due to an emergency or request from the birthing person. Meaning that their transfer rate is less important than your trust and belief in the care provider. You want to know that your provider is skilled and someone that you feel confident in. 

Could I do a home birth? 

Home births are a great option for low-risk birthing folks. Midwives attend home births and have different definitions of what is “low-risk”. For example, some midwives will attend home births for clients with a higher BMI, as they do not consider BMI alone a reason to label someone as too high risk to care for, while others have more strict BMI policies.  

Considering the birth location is just as important as a decision as the provider you choose. Your provider is the person that you are working with 1-1 throughout your pregnancy.

They play a major role in making sure all your questions get answered and caring for you. If you have the flexibility to choose the hospital you are birthing at in Seattle, take a look at The Washington State Department of Health report on c-sections and VBACs to help inform your decision. You can even ask providers about it when doing your initial interviews. If you have any questions about this report and what it means, add it to the comments section below and we’ll help!

Skip to content