Mother holding baby with father and team of nurses

Empowering Mothers, Improving Communication

In an effort to reduce unnecessary C-sections and also enhance a mother’s childbirth experience and safety, Ariadne Labs—a joint center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—has established “Team Birth Project.” Because of the steps Overlake has already taken in recent years to improve birth outcomes, Overlake was proud to be chosen as one of four hospitals nationwide to pilot the project.

Frequent and clear communication is central to the Team Birth Project. Through the use of a large whiteboard mounted on the wall in each hospital birthing room, physicians, nurses and midwives regularly conduct “huddles” during the course of mom’s labor, writing out in clear language the status reports and other information that ensure everyone is on the same page. The goal is to empower mothers and all members of the birth team to communicate and inspire teamwork to reduce unnecessary treatment.

“Not only does the use of the whiteboard give moms and families a better understanding the process of labor, it’s giving them a voice and choice. We want to hear from them, know their preferences and honor those preferences,” says Margie Bridges, Overlake perinatal clinical nurse specialist.

Patient and family feedback to the whiteboards, which are like dynamic, living birth plans, has been positive. Mothers surveyed afterward have reported that they felt listened to; dads and other family members said they felt included.

“We have witnessed encouraging results and believe the project can make a positive difference in every patient’s birth experience,” says Kristin Graham, MD, medical director for Women’s and Infants’ Services at Overlake. “It reinforces the idea that providing high-quality care is equally as important as communicating in a way that ensures that the birthing family’s values, concerns and preferences align with the care we are delivering.”