childbirth header

Definition of Optimal Childbearing Outcomes

The definition of optimal childbearing outcomes includes the healthiest possible foundation for the physical and emotional development of the mother, the baby, and the family.

What is the optimal childbirth outcome?

The first reaction of many when asked, "What is the optimal outcome?", might be "a healthy baby."

In fact, a number of years ago a video on preparation for childbirth was released. Near the end a physician stated, "And remember, the ultimate goal is a healthy baby."

That statement stuck with me. I couldn't disagree with it exactly, yet I knew it was missing something. The truth is the goal of maternity care is, or at least should be, much more than just a healthy baby.

To begin with, most babies are healthy. Consider the horrific practices performed in obstetrics three and four decades ago: infants were so drugged they were born blue and had to be held upside down and spanked to get them to breathe. Most of them survived and were healthy. By no means does a healthy baby indicate that the family received good health care.

Because, in fact, most newborns are healthy regardless of what health care professionals do or don't do to them.

More than a healthy baby

A number of years ago a prominent national columnist printed a few letters from mothers who were unhappy about cesareans they felt were pushed on them unnecessarily. The columnist took the position, "You have a healthy baby; don't complain."

That sentiment has been promoted by many others.

A message has been communicated to the public. The survival of a healthy baby is all that counts.

This is not sufficient for two reasons.

Good vital signs are not good enough

First, in no other medical specialty do we say that as long as the patient is discharged with good vital signs, the care they received was sufficient.

Especially when one considers that the majority of mothers and babies are healthy upon admission to the hospital. The fact that they are still healthy at discharge proves nothing.

Thrive not survive

Second, the best possible outcome is far more than just a set of good vital signs.

What we should see at discharge:
  • A baby that thrives and grows
  • A mother who is confident and capable of nurturing the infant
  • A family system that supports the mother/infant dyad.

Typical Outcomes

The list above is not what we usually see.

What we often see is:
  • Mothers who are disconnected from their body who need to "recover" from birth
  • Infants with a poor foundation for breastfeeding
  • Parents who are not adequataely attached to their infants
  • Parents who do not feel confident of their ability to care for their newborn
  • Mothers suffer from postpartum depression and/or post traumatic birth disorder

Our Definition of Optimal Childbearing Outcomes

The ideal is much greater than a physically healthy baby. The definition of optimal childbearing outcomes is the healthiest possible foundation for the physical and emotional development of that family. It includes:
  • The physical and emotional development of the baby
  • The physical and emotional health of the mother as she enters the long-term task of caring for this new individual
  • The health of the family as it provides for and nurtures its members

20 Factors of Optimal Childbearing Outcomes

Twenty different factors that account for optimal pregnancy outcomes are identified and listed. This list the ideal outcome for every baby, mother and family. Although few have perfectly ideal outcomes, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to best outcomes.

Return to the Better Childbirth Outcomes HOME PAGE.




Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Optimal Childbearing Update.
[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines

Enhancing Birth Breastfeeding and Bonding

By Karen Newell Copyright 2011 - 2012 Better Childbirth Outcomes - All Rights Reserved
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA