According to a recent survey, many pregnant women are undergoing medical procedures and allowing invasive interventions prior to and during delivery, such as induced labors and cesarean sections, without being informed of possible risks and complications. The survey, which was conducted by a nonprofit called Childbirth Connection, asked 2,400 women who had recently given birth questions about induced labor and cesarean sections.
This survey identified several areas where care for pregnant women failed to follow established guidelines. Unfortunately, it is common for convenience to take priority over the best outcomes. The less predictable schedule of mothers and babies has been sacrificed for doctors and hospitals using the timetable that is more convenient for them. Women need to take an active role in their care so that they receive the best possible care for themselves and their babies. To do this they need access to trustworthy information about interventions and what the benefits and harms such actions could result in.
The survey showed that 41 percent of the women had induced labor. One of the reasons given for having their labor induced was the concern that the baby might be getting too large or that the mother had reached her due date. Research has shown however that neither of these reasons on its own warrants induction. Additionally, about 25 percent of the women who had labor induced said they were pressured by to undergo the procedure by their health care provider.
It was also indicated by the survey that one intervention can lead to others. Of first time mothers, about 75 percent had their labor induced and was given an epidural analgesia. Of this group of women, about 33 percent ended up having a cesarean section even when it was not medically necessary. This is compared to only five percent of the women who were not medically induce nor given an epidural, ended up having a cesarean section.
Another area where intervention was more common was when a woman had previously delivered a baby by cesarean section. Almost 50 percent of those women stated that they would have like to have attempted to have delivered their next baby vaginally. However, many were denied this possibility because either their doctor or their hospital refused to allow them the option. Guidelines now encourage vaginal births after cesarean sections given the growing researcher that highlights the potential risks multiple cesarean births could bring.
Some other concerning trends included:
- Mothers not spending the first hour of their lives with their baby who was with hospital staff for routine care.
- Women who wanted to exclusively breastfeed experienced hospital practices that undermined the process (being offered free formula).
- Many women did not ask questions out of concern of being perceived as difficult, did not want the same maternity care their health care provider wanted, or their provider appeared rushed.
- Low-risk, drug-free measures to ease labor pain were rarely used by women.
- Most of the women who had an episiotomy were not included in the decision of whether to undergo the procedure.
Mothers need to know all their options prior to going into labor. When the procedure or intervention (or lack thereof) leads to injury to either the mother or baby, an attorney should be contacted to see if the health care provider should be held accountable.
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