Did you have to convince your friends and family that having your baby in a birth center was not only safe, but the safest place to have your baby? What is common is not necessarily always the best practice. Many of the interventions we commonly see in labor and delivery room are not only unnecessary, but even harmful.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released a committee opinion recommending different approaches for limiting interventions during labor and birth for low-risk women. Their conclusion?

Many common obstetric practices are of limited or uncertain benefit for low-risk women in spontaneous labor. In addition, some women may seek to reduce medical interventions during labor and delivery. Satisfaction with one’s birth experience also is related to personal expectations, support from caregivers, quality of the patient–caregiver relationship, and the patient’s involvement in decision making (57). Therefore, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should be familiar with and consider using low-interventional approaches, when appropriate, for the intrapartum management of low-risk women in spontaneous labor.

While families, midwives, birth centers, and care providers are celebrating this statement, Childbirth Connection released an excellent fact sheet summarizing ACOG’s opinion, as well as a reminder that:

Unfortunately, it often takes many years before health care providers reliably carry out the recommendations of professional organizations. So, it is important for pregnant women themselves to become informed and take an active role in securing high-quality care for themselves and their babies.

Childbirth Connection’s Fact Sheet included the following ACOG recommendations (these will look familiar if you’ve had or are having your baby in a birth center!):

  • Stay home until “active” labor
  • Keep track of the baby’s heartbeat with a hand-held device.
  • Obtain continuous, one-to-one support from a labor companion such as a doula.
  • Drink clear liquids during labor.
  • Avoid a procedure to break the membranes (bag of waters).
  • Use upright positions and/or move about during labor.
  • Try various drug-free pain relief methods.
  • Use position of comfort and choice when pushing and giving birth.
  • Rest and await the urge to push after full dilation.
  • Push according to one’s own urges and preferences.

How might this information influence your labor and birth? What conversations or questions do you need to bring up at your next prenatal appointment?

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