Brookings Health System earns birthing-friendly designation


BROOKINGS — Brookings Health System was recently bestowed an inaugural Birthing- Friendly designation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services. It is the first-ever hospital quality designation by the Department of Health & Human Services that specifically focuses on maternal health.

“At New Beginnings Birth Center, our team strives to provide the latest evidence-based maternity care,” said Obstetrics Director Michelle Sand. “Our innovations include offering doula services to give parents continuous emotional and physical labor and delivery support in addition to the care provided by physicians and nurses. We have also led our state in infant nutrition practices, implementing policies that encourage breastfeeding and support mothers and babies with nursing both during and after their hospital stay. Our quality goals focus on improving diagnosis, response and treatment to obstetric and neonatal emergencies as well as promoting physiologic birth to reduce medical interventions or to assist in the labor process when medical interventions are necessary.”

CMS created the new designation to identify hospitals and health systems who participate in a statewide or national perinatal quality improvement collaborative program and implement evidence-based quality care to improve maternal health. The Care Compare website now includes a pink mother-and-baby icon for hospitals and health systems who have earned the designation.

An evidence-based care measure CMS gauges are elective deliveries scheduled one to two weeks early when it is not medically necessary. According to Care Compare, no patients at Brookings Health System were unnecessarily delivered early, ranking better than the South Dakota average of three percent and the national average of two percent.

Other maternal care measures Brookings Health performs well on include:

  • 16% overall cesarean section rate of births in 2022. According to the CDC, 24.6% of births in South Dakota and 32.1% of births nationwide are by C-section.
  • 32% vaginal birth after cesarean rate in 2022 for women with a previous cesarean. According to the March of Dimes, 22.4% of South Dakota patients with a previous cesarean had a VBAC and only 14.2% nationwide had a VBAC. Of the patients at Brookings Health who attempted a trial of labor after cesarean, 80% successfully delivered their baby vaginally.

Brookings Health System’s OB unit, New Beginnings Birth Center, has eight beds consisting of five labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum suites and three postpartum recovery rooms. As a Baby-Friendly designated hospital, the unit provides full OB services to expectant parents and enables area residents to deliver their baby close to home with a local physician. To learn more about New Beginnings Birth Center, visit