ACOG Says “Birth Should Have Little Intervention”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a document yesterday that discusses the healthy laboring mother and how to help her have a successful birth. While one may argue that a successful birth is any birth that ends with a healthy mother and baby, that is simply not true. Our medical community has seen an ongoing increase in medical interventions in healthy birthing women, and the effects have been less stellar.
The truth is that something needs to be done to significantly decrease the amount of c-sections performed in our country. Let me take a time out – there will always be a need for medical interventions and c-sections, as not every birthing mother is a low-risk pregnancy. BUT, most women are low-risk, and yet, births are still manipulated and messed with instead of allowing a mother’s body to birth as it should. This group of doctors, midwives, and students broke down all major angles of birth, from constant monitoring and available support to the mother to pain management and laboring positions. The research overwhelming weighs in towards limiting any and all interventions. While pain medication is not going anywhere, and is still available to all birthing women, the ACOG is hoping that this statement will help mothers understand that the absolute safest, healthiest, and best way to birth in a low-risk situation is with as few (or none) interventions as possible.
You can read the entire document HERE, but I have taken the ACOG’s recommendations and conclusions to attain the healthiest birth outcomes and listed them here in easy-to-read words:
· A labor that begins on its own, with baby in head-down position, deserves personalized ‘labor management’ and non-medicated pain relief.
· A mother should not be admitted to the hospital in early stages of labor, but instead offered support and non-medicated pain management techniques.
· If admitted in early labor, a mother should be educated and supported, guided into comfortable positions, granted water to be submersed in, and treated without medical intervention.
· Women who experience Prelabor Rupture of Membranes (water breaking before labor begins) should be educated about the risks of using interventions to start labor. Allowing labor to begin on its own, over an extended period of time, is the best way to approach labor.
· Continuous emotional support (ie: a doula) is linked to improved birth outcomes.
· The bag of water should not be broken in a normally progressing labor.
· A hand-held Doppler should be used intermittently instead of standard fetal monitoring techniques.
· A doctor can tailor interventions to meet the needs of each individual laboring mother by using non-medical and medical pain management techniques, depending on the mother’s requests.
· Changing positions often while laboring can help the mother feel better and aid in a better position for baby. This movement should be allowed as long as any needed monitoring can still occur.
· While pushing, a woman should not be coached to breathe. Allowing her to breathe on her own provides the best conditions for pushing her baby out.
· A woman should not be forced to push at 10 centimeters. A time frame of 1-2 hours should be granted if the woman’s body naturally takes this break before it begins to push.
All of this information should be well understood by any woman planning a pregnancy or preparing to deliver, as education is the key to best birth!