Our new program puts you at the center of your birthing process


In this article:

  • The new TeamBirth program at Providence helps caregivers pay special attention to different cultural customs.

  • Throughout the labor and delivery process, caregivers meet with laboring moms for a “huddle” to discuss what happens next.

  • Patients say they appreciate when their caregivers use words they can understand, rather than medical jargon that can be scary.

Childbirth is an experience that is different for every mother, and you certainly can’t control everything that happens. However, you can have a say in the experience and be involved in decisions that affect you and your baby. Providence’s new TeamBirth program puts laboring mothers at the center of the birthing experience. Caregivers pay special attention to different cultural customs and views of childbirth so patients from all different backgrounds feel like they are receiving what they want and need.

A national program comes to Providence

Ariadne Labs (a research facility) and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, began TeamBirth as a pilot program to increase communication between women and their caregivers. Providence started its partnership with Ariadne Labs in January 2022, bringing the program to 10 hospitals in four different regions.

The program was a perfect way to help us make the birthing experience more personal for women of all different backgrounds. “We have been attempting to develop solutions to address health equity and birth outcomes for several years,” says Trina Jellison, group vice president for the Women and Children’s Institute at Providence. “This program allows us to ensure all people involved in the birthing experience are participating in decision making.”

Focusing on the mom

The TeamBirth program starts before a woman goes into labor. Caregivers make a special effort to learn about the mother’s specific needs and how she would like the birthing process to go. The idea is that once she is in the delivery room, all who are involved in her care will know which types of comfort measures she wants, and what kinds of cultural traditions she would like to observe.

During labor, the program centers around “team huddles” — opportunities for the caregivers and patient to communicate about what is happening right now and what will be occurring in the future. During these huddles, the laboring mother is the center of attention. Rather than talking “about” the woman, the caregivers are talking with her and listening to her opinion.

After each huddle, caregivers update a whiteboard, which is located where the patient can easily see it. It records what they talked about and notes when they will need the next huddle. The idea is to use language each patient can understand — for example, rather than talking about the “membrane rupturing,” caregivers discuss what happens when the woman’s bag of water breaks. “The whiteboard reflects the patient’s view and language, and not acronyms or nursing goals,” says Jellison.

Positive experiences

Before Providence started the TeamBirth program, each of the caregivers in the participating hospitals received training. They underwent virtual training sessions with some of the people who developed the program at Ariadne, participated in individual coaching sessions and performed mock scenarios in teams. The last step of their training was to explain the program to patients and ask how they saw their interactions with caregivers.

The response from patients has been overwhelmingly positive. “We have had several patients tell us how much they have appreciated hearing the team talk about their care with them while they were there, versus just having a staff member relay messages,” says Jellison.

In one situation, a caregiver saw that another caregiver was using language that frightened the patient and spoke up to address the issue. This helped everyone in the room adjust to using common language, rather than medical jargon that was hard to understand. The patient said she especially appreciated that her caregiver noticed what was happening.

The results are in

The main purpose of the TeamBirth program is to help mothers have healthy deliveries. Some of the early pilot programs in other health care systems took place in states that had high rates of infant death and disability. Not only did those hospitals see a decrease in deaths, but the mothers also felt they had better care — and more control over what was happening to them. Providence hopes to see similar results in its hospitals.

Providence works hard to make sure people of all backgrounds and cultures feel comfortable in our hospitals, and TeamBirth gives us an opportunity to keep the patient at the center of everything we do.

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Related resources

Finding a family OB

How to create a birth plan

Swedish improves the birth experience for minorities


This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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