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Gundersen nurse midwifery program among nation's best

Gundersen Health System's certified nurse midwifery program is the longest running program in the state of Wisconsin. Now, it's also among the nation's top-performing practices.

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) recently named its 2016 Best Practices, which reflect excellence in midwifery care and encourage continuous improvement among ACNM members.

Gundersen midwives, who deliver babies in La Crosse, were awarded "best practice" in three out of eight categories for a high-volume practice (more than 500 births per year), including:

  • Lowest primary Cesarean delivery rate – First in the nation. Primary Cesarean delivery rate is defined as the percentage of Cesarean deliveries performed for first births.
  • Highest spontaneous vaginal birth rate – Second in the nation. Spontaneous vaginal birth happens on its own, without the use of drugs or techniques to induce labor.
  • Least number of third and fourth degree lacerations – Third in the nation. Third and fourth degree lacerations are the most severe forms of perineal or vaginal tearing during childbirth.

For most healthy women, a vaginal birth is the safest way to have a baby. It's a practice Gundersen physicians, midwives and nurses embrace. Benefits of vaginal birth include shorter hospital stays, lower infection rates and a quicker recovery. Babies born vaginally also have a lower risk of respiratory problems.

"Our team is passionate about providing compassionate, safe, evidence-based care to women during labor and birth. We encourage women to be mobile and upright during labor and to use various positions which can help labor progress naturally. We also encourage women to be patient at the end of pregnancy and to wait for labor to start on its own and induce labor, only if medically indicated," states certified nurse midwife, Amy Belling-Dunn, MSN, CNM, Gundersen Obstetrics/Gynecology.

Last year, Gundersen midwives maintained a vaginal birth rate of 94 percent and a primary cesarean delivery rate of 4 percent. Comparatively, the primary cesarean delivery rate for the 38 states, District of Columbia and New York City was 21.5 percent in 2012 (National Vital Statistics Report, January 2014). That is, more than one out of five births to women without a previous cesarean delivery were delivered by cesarean.

"This Best Practice award is a testament to the wonderful care we give women and families every day. Receiving this award would not be possible without the continued support and collaboration of our physician colleagues," adds Belling-Dunn.

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