this article, which discusses the "new normal" of interventions in birth. Induction, pitocin to "speed things up", artificially rupturing membranes (again, to "speed things up"), episiotomies, forceps, often culminating in an "emergency" c-section, have become the new normal.
But it doesn't have to be this way. The article notes that during Hurricane Charley (back in 1994) the c-section rate at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Centre dropped from 29% to 17% (and only 6% if you exclude the scheduled c-sections from the data). Why? Because the power was out, and although the hospital had a generator, it was limited. So women were told to go back home until they were in active labor. When they were admitted to the hospital, they had their babies within hours and with minimal intervention.
The article also refers to a 2005 study (yes, this is the full study) published in the British Medical Journal, that looked at over 5,000 midwife-attended low-risk births. 12% of those babies were sent to the hospital; only 1/4 of those for urgent reasons. The cesarean rate was less than 4%. No mothers died and 1.7% of babies the babies died either during labor or in the next thirty days...which while incredibly tragic, is comparable to low-risk hospital births.
So why do we, as a nation, accept so many interventions? How did this become the new normal? Back in the 40s and 50s, there was a trend away from anesthetized births and toward "natural" (un-medicated but still in hospital) births. In the 70s and 80s, the use of midwifery for home births soared, only to crash in the 90s. Twenty years later our national c-section rate is pushing 1/3 of all deliveries and interventions such as pitocin augmentation are so routine they are sometimes given without even asking the mother's permission.
What happened? And why? And where should we go from here?
Please do discuss, but keep it nice, ok? This is a hot topic and I don't want to have to moderate my comments. :)
Hat tip to Amy for the link to the original article.