Supporting healthy pregnancies and births with the Best Birth Initiative

Cesarean births and other interventions are high risk, costly to employers, and often avoidable. Our clinician-designed Best Birth Initiative helps birthing parents plan and prepare for safe and healthy births.

For progressive employers, taking care of employees’ health and supporting good health outcomes is essential. When an employee welcomes a new child into their family, they are at particularly high risk for medical interventions. With the right benefits and programs, employers can reduce those risks so parents and their new babies can be healthy and safe.

In the United States, one in three babies are born via cesarean birth. While cesarean can be a life-saving and necessary step, it’s estimated that a healthy rate should be about one in four births for first time parents.

Not only can medically unnecessary cesarean births put the health of the birth parent at risk, they’re also more expensive—about $10,000 more than a vaginal birth—and often result in costly, unnecessary NICU stays. What’s more, parents that have their first child via cesarean are much more likely to have a cesarean for any other births, leading to more costs and risks down the line.

The good news is that about 25% of today’s cesarean births are avoidable. With the right preparation during pregnancy, guidance, and provider selection, parents can increase their odds of having a safe and successful vaginal birth.

Cleo mobile app with birth planning resourcesOur commitment to patient health

At Cleo, we are committed to equipping working parents with education and support to navigate their healthcare experiences. Our programs and approach are developed by Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chitra Akileswaran, a practicing OB-Gyn, in partnership with Cleo’s Certified Nurse-Midwives and other health and parenting experts. Through her practice, Dr. Akileswaran found that many pregnant patients lack the support and guidance needed to ensure their best possible health experiences and outcomes through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. She founded Cleo to address these gaps and drives development of our clinical programs to bring pregnant people and their families the support they need.

Each Cleo member is matched with a Cleo Guide, a health and parenting expert, such as a Certified Nurse-Midwife or doula, who supports the member through their entire journey with Cleo. Cleo Guides are a trusted source of truth and from the beginning of pregnancy, families turn to their Cleo Guides for evidence-based information, emotional support, and guidance throughout their care.

The Best Birth Initiative

Cleo’s Best Birth Initiative provides pregnant people with the knowledge and evidence to make choices that set them up for a great birth.Cleo hospital scorecard rating hospitals by cesarean birth rateAs part of the Best Birth Initiative, each member’s Cleo Guide works with them to:

  • Direct members to a high quality hospital and birth centers. The Guide creates a customized scorecard of facilities in their area that are rated across a range of quality indicators, like details on amenities, rates of cesarean births, postpartum services available, and more
  • Help develop a plan for the member’s birth support team, including help finding a doula, if desired
  • Navigate insurance and identify in-network options
  • Provide ongoing support and guidance throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period


Thanks for spending extra time to help me go through all the information! You have no idea how valuable it is to have you as I navigate this journey for the first time. You’ve been so incredibly helpful! I felt so much better about completing my birth plan after we chatted. I think it really helped me start figuring out what I want, and what areas to do a bit more research on.

Pregnant Cleo member

Improving birth outcomes

Since launching the Best Birth initiative in 2018, Cleo members have seen exceptional results. Half of participating members transfer to a different facility with a higher quality score based on Cleo’s guidance of available options. By helping members choose quality facilities for their births, Cleo is also reducing the rate of cesarean births among members—25% lower rate than the national average.

With the help of programs like the Best Birth Initiative, Cleo families are more confident as they navigate their care at every stage. Members are equipped with evidence-based information and guidance at every step of their pregnancy and birth planning journey to make decisions that work for them.

This call significantly reduced my anxiety about my birth plan. I learned so much in such a small amount of time and feel like I have the tools to make the best decisions during my induction.

Pregnant Cleo member