AUSTIN, TEX. – Encouraging an upright position and allowing mobility during labor is a cost-effective intervention that could save hundreds of millions of dollars while preventing cesarean deliveries, uterine rupture, and maternal deaths, according to a recent cost-effectiveness study.
Alyssa Hersh, a medical student at Oregon Health & Sciences University, Portland, developed the analysis using an innovative model that examines the costs associated not just with the first delivery, but also the probable next delivery.
“Our model was dependent on the ability to reduce cesareans and also reduce labor times,” said Ms. Hersh in a video interview. “So this reduction in cesareans allowed women to avoid having an increased risk of uterine rupture, of emergent hysterectomy, and other downstream consequences.”
The “two-delivery model” takes into account the average number of births per woman in the United States, “such that the risks, benefits, and costs are framed within the public health perspective of the average U.S. childrearing woman’s entire reproductive course,” she and her coauthors wrote in the poster accompanying the presentation at the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
This model captures the downstream effects of a first cesarean delivery on the next delivery, for example, providing a more realistic picture of the true costs of cesarean delivery for a nulliparous female.
Some of the known benefits of being upright and mobile during labor, Ms. Hersh said, include shortened labor and reduced risk for cesarean delivery. Cost-effectiveness of this approach for low-risk women, she said, had not been fully explored.
For the analysis, Ms. Hersh and her colleagues used a theoretical cohort of 1.8 million women, approximating the number of nulliparous term deliveries in the United States each year. They used rates of cesarean delivery for women laboring in upright and recumbent positions that were drawn from the literature, but lower than national averages: 7.8% of recumbent women and 5.4% of upright women went on to cesarean delivery in the model used by the investigators.
The outcomes tracked in the analysis included cesarean delivery, uterine rupture, hysterectomy attributed to uterine rupture, costs, and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). All of the outcomes were tracked for the index pregnancy and the second pregnancy.