There are several common hospital interventions that ARE avoidable. Contrary to common belief, the hospital staff doesn’t always have your best interest at heart, and they are not always right. I have no problem admitting that hospitals can save lives when an emergency occurs, but they often try and do intervene even if it isn’t necessary.
Some of the most common interventions during a hospital birth include:
* Epidural – injections results in loss of sensation including pain by blocking the transmission of impulses through nerve fibers in or near the spinal cord. More than 75% of women receive an epidural at some point during labor.
* Pitocin – synthetic oxytocin used to promote uterine contraction and speed up labor.
* Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring – external and internal monitoring systems that track the heart rate of your baby during labor. Studies show that continuous monitoring does not have better outcomes than intermittent monitoring and may increase the chances of having an unplanned Cesarean Section.
* Urinary Catheters – some care providers push to give you a catheter during labor so you don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom during labor. However, having a catheter restricts your movement and usually means you cant leave your bed. Movement and position changes is very helpful during labor especially if you are progressing slowly. It encourages your baby to get into the right position for birth, and if you are attached to a catheter, your chances of being able to move around and change positions is slim to none.
* Artificial Rupture of Membranes – Also known as breaking the water. Some care providers push for this in order to promote labor progression, however, studies show that there are no more better outcomes than if you would let the membranes rupture on their own. Your water does not have to break for you to go into labor. Some babies are even born still inside the caul.
* Directed Pushing – History shows directed pushing started when women were extremely medicated and needed help knowing when to push. Most care providers still today like to direct you when to push and when not to even if you are having a natural birth. Your body knows when it should push and your contractions do most of the work for you. However, if you receive an epidural you lose almost all feelings below your chest, so during labor if you cant feel your body, its very hard to know when to push. Avoiding an epidural will help avoid being directed to push.
* Episiotomy – A cut made in the tissues between a women’s vagina and anus. Studies show that 30-35% of women receive an episiotomy and many studies show that they do not improve outcomes of 3rd-4th degree tears. Some studies show that an episiotomy increases the chances of having a 3rd or 4th degree tear. An option to avoid episiotomy include using a warm compress or rubbing olive oil or against the women’s perineum.
* Cesarean Section – a surgical procedure with an incision made through a women’s abdomen and uterus in order to deliver their baby/babies. Today, 1 out of 3 women are having a Cesarean Section with numbers rising!
Ways to avoid these common interventions:
* While searching for your care provider, ask what their statistics are on each of these interventions and learn their procedures and policies. You may run into a provider that has policies and procedures that do not match your expectations and wants. This is where you have to do a little work. KEEP SEARCHING. Find a provider that is best for YOU. Just because ONE care provider does not share the same views as you, does not mean that another provider wont. You DO have options, you may just have to work to find the right one.
* Before you give birth at the provider of your choice, take a tour, learn your way around where you will be giving birth, and ask as many questions as you can think of at the time. I would suggest spending a few days coming up with questions ahead of time and ask anymore you may think of while you are on a tour.
* Hire a birth doula. They will be your support throughout the whole process from finding the right care provider to helping you have the birth experience that you want. Studies show “Overall, women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.”
* Write a birth plan. Include everything you want your birth to be, what interventions you want to avoid and which ones you are okay with, how you want to labor, etc. Don’t forget to write a plan for emergencies as well. You want to be as prepared as possible, whether you plan on giving birth in hospital, birth center, or at home. Going over the “just in case” scenarios is always a good idea for you and your family.
* Once you write your birth plan, make sure everyone that you plan on being involved with your birth knows exactly what you want and expect. Not only your family and birth supporter like your doula, but also your care provider. It is important that they know your expectations and what you are and are not comfortable with.
It is your right to be well informed about anything having to do with your healthcare. You can avoid a lot of unnecessary interventions by just being informed about what could happen and why. You have the right as a patient to just say NO! In the end, it is your body, your right, and your responsibility to take control of your healthcare.