My epidural from the horrible birth of my son in 2001

Natural birth has been at the foundations of  Everything Birth from its conception. It began in 2001 as a small resource center offering natural birth classes and workshops.   Everything Birth’s owner, Crystal White, wrote, “My first child was born in 1997, and at the time I was still contemplating grad school and what direction my career should take. The more research I did on birth, intervention, and the unbelievably high cesarean rate in the US, I knew that somehow I wanted my career to be involved with birth.”  The year Everything Birth, Inc. was born was also the year my own son was born in a hospital. His birth experience was very traumatic given I was induced and the threat of cesarean section loomed over me the entire time with “gentle reminders” from the OB that my window of time for delivering naturally was running out.

As the years passed, the midwifery movement has grown and we have seen the occasional study stressing the increased safety of  a midwife assisted childbirth over a hospitalized childbirth. Over the years, I have often wished that these studies had been available just a few years sooner. I felt that same way as I read the most recent study on the risks of unneeded inductions of labor.

This month, a very important childbirth study was published in  the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. Led by Rosalie Grivell, BSc, BMBS, FRANZCOG, of the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute, this childbirth study has the potential to dramatically change the way society views childbirth. A summary of the study, which included 28,626 pregnant women was highlighted in the research magazine Science Daily. It seems science is catching on to what midwives and birth doulas have been insisting. Science daily reported that the “induction of labor at term in the absence of maternal or fetal indications increases the risk of cesarean section and other postpartum complications for the woman, as well as neonatal complications.”

  • Induction of labor for non-recognized indications was associated with a 67% increased relative risk of cesarean section.
  • Induction of labor for non-recognized indications was associated with a 64% increased relative risk of infants needing NICU care.
  • Induction of labor for non-recognized indications was associated with a 44% increased relative risk of infants needing intensive care treatment.

In addition to those findings, the study found that for the best maternal health outcomes and the lowest risk of mothers needing an epidural or spinal analgesia occurred with birth at or after 41 weeks’ gestation. We discussed the reasons for this in a previous post called The Due Date Debacle.  More than just the implications this study will eventually have on hospital births, I feel that this childbirth study stands to provide an enormous amount of information to help women with healthy pregnancies subside any culturally induced fears about choosing a midwife to handle the birth of their child.