The birth of a child is and should be among the happiest events in a woman’s life. And hospitals and clinicians seek to partner with women to create and carry out birth plans that respect their wishes for this special time. As a nurse who has cared for women in labor, I know how important it is for the patient to be heard and be an active participant in her care.

Tragically, complications sometimes can and do occur. That is why hospitals are engaged in national improvement projects — to test new ideas and disseminate practices that improve care for all because one preventable complication is one too many. The American Hospital Association is an active partner in the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, a national data-driven maternal safety and quality improvement initiative based on proven implementation approaches to improving maternal safety and outcomes in the U.S. Through these collaborative efforts and hospitals’ continued commitment, some adverse obstetric-related events are decreasing. Such national-level collaborations have had significant impact, such as a nearly 65% drop in early-elective deliveries from 2010 to 2013.

While hospitals and clinicians have worked hard to improve outcomes, we must continue to pursue advancements in maternal care and ensure that patients’ wishes are heard by clinicians. Actionable data can reduce risk of morbidity, which can result in lower mortality. That is why the AHA and more than 80 organizations are urging House and Senate leaders to pass H.R. 1318/S. 1112 before year-end. This legislation provides critical federal funding for state efforts to develop maternal mortality review committees to better understand maternal complications and identify solutions. This collection and dissemination of this additional data is one – but important – step that will aid in better understanding the causes of complications and ways to improve treatment.

In addition, we continue to advocate for increasing access to health insurance and prenatal care, as well as addressing health inequities and the lack of social services in our communities. We recognize that women are at risk from the first days of pregnancy through the postpartum period, and hospitals and their partners can do more to improve their care across the continuum. Everyone deserves a healthy start.