Changing Climate of MTF’s
You are delivering in an MTF (Military Treatment Facility – Military Hospital). What are your first thoughts? Subpar-care? Shady practices? You are not the first to think this. Many people are fearful, they have heard the scandals and mistreatment in VA hospitals. They have heard the worst case scenario from a friend of a friend. While I do believe there have been some unfortunate things that have happened, I personally have not experienced any of these as a doula or as a patient delivering in MTFs. Let me give you a couple of things to think about while choosing your prenatal care. The MTF is not the ONLY option, but it is an option to be considered.
You won’t find surgical birth rates for military hospitals. Not for profit hospitals are not required to post these stats. So not having a number leaves a lot of people leery but the reality is that military hospitals actually have a lower cesarean rate than their civilian counterparts. There are 2 main reasons for the lower rates:
- The doctor/midwife delivering is on duty. They are there for 12 hours or 24 hours (depending on the facility) and will deliver you if your delivery happens during their shift. There is no magical time clock to beat. If you do not deliver while they are on duty, the next doctor will deliver you. For this reason, I have noticed that most of the doctors at military hospitals are willing to let you labor for longer (as long as mom and baby are tolerating the labor) before labeling a patient as ‘failure to progress’ (cervix not changing).
- As stated before, these hospitals are not making any profit. Their operating budget falls under the DoD’s budget. That means less chance of having a surgical birth to make more money. The providers make a salary and will not benefit from providing more or less cesarean sections.
**(I do believe that many cesareans are necessary, but the rumor about doctors either being on a schedule or wanting to make more money is out there so I wanted to address those specifically).
I have delivered at two different MTFs. I have had excellent care and beautiful private rooms. I had a 5 hour labor and I had a 22 hour labor. (My other 2 were born in civilian care). Both hospitals allowed me to roam about as I wished. They did not confine me to the bed. They provided peanut balls and birthing balls. They created calm and peaceful atmospheres. They allowed a photographer, doula, my husband and the parents to the baby I carried in the room. They respected my wishes. They were kind and considerate. Know your options if you are interested in care outside of military providers, but also know that your care can really be excellent within the MTF system!
Author: Melanie Binversie, Owner | Lead Doula of Stars and Stripes Doulas of Washington DC