10 Overused & Unnecessary Pregnancy Procedures

Health Check 98

birth laborYou're having a baby! Welcome to the incredibly overwhelming time when you're faced with making the best, most informed choices. Those decisions start the minute we find out we're pregnant. We have doulas, midwives, birth educators, and doctors to share their knowledge, but we should do our own investigating in books, online, and through friends so it feels right and works best for us.

With this baby-having, I think every woman should have a birth plan. And then a plan in case that birth plan needs to change. Because it probably will and that's okay. What's not okay is having unnecessary procedures affecting us and our babies without us knowing why, and if any potential consequences could come from those procedures. I stumbled across a Consumer Reports article on what to reject when you're expecting. A must-read. Let's review.

Before we delve into these 10 procedures that no doubt will cause many to get upset and say, "But I needed that!" please know that if you did need any of the things on this list, that's precisely the point. Many of us do really need certain things to be done (I had three of these), but far too many don't. This also isn't about beating yourself up if you did any of these things in the past and wish you didn't. This list is here to inform, not enrage. 

More from The Stir: Painless Labor Really Is Possible (VIDEO)

What we should also note that it's in Consumer Reports because a hospital is still a business. You wouldn't go into a dentist, open your mouth, and say do whatever you want. You wouldn't go into a restaurant, give them your credit card, and say just feed me especially if you have any food allergies. You have choices. You're paying for it. You should make the best decisions for you. And when you're pregnant, this means the best choice for baby, too. Here is the list of often unnecessary procedures.

  1. C-section when you are low-risk and it's a first birth. It's major surgery. There are risks.
  2. An automatic second c-section. More hospitals are welcoming the right candidate to try vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC); 75 percent of the women who do attempt are successful. Repeat c-section do present their own dangers. Tori Spelling had complications and was hospitalized due to hers.
  3. Elective early delivery. Thirty-nine weeks is full-term. Late-term preemies (born at 37 or 38 weeks) often have issues because there is still more growing baby has to do in the womb even in just a week or two.
  4. Inducing labor without medical reason. It's risky. If it's not time, it's not time. It can make labor longer and increase risk of c-section.
  5. Ultrasounds after 24 weeks. There is a spike in c-sections for those who got ultrasounds late in pregnancy, but the experts say oftentimes there is really no need and the info gained is often incorrect.
  6. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring. This is recommended if you're on labor-enhancing drugs, had an epidural, or attempting a VBAC, but otherwise the monitors are restricting and unnecessary.
  7. Early epidurals. Getting them too early can make labor longer and not let you know when you have to push. Wait until the end if you are getting an epi.
  8. Routinely rupturing the amniotic membranes. There's an increased risk of cesarean here as well, and has proven to not be needed.
  9. Routine episiotomy. Sometimes needed, but most times not. Plus, more healing.
  10. Sending your newborn to the nursery. For a special need, of course, but studies show mamas get just as much rest when baby is bed-in.

What do you think of these unnecessary procedures? Have any others to add?


Image via MammaLoves/Flickr

labor & delivery, pregnancy health, tests & procedures, natural parenting, c-sections

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PinkJane PinkJane

oh and had my Mom NOT had an ultrasound late in her pregnancy, I'd be dead.

Krist... Kristin_Allen

You know what else is not always necessary? STARVING a woman in labor.


Not eating for prolonged periods of time can make a woman in labor have keto-acidocis, a condition that puts significant strain on the body and major organs. This can cause complications to labor and fretal distress. 


When a laboring woman wants to eat, and there is a low chance of surgery for the next four hours, FEED HER.

Elise Anderson

I'm curious to know why "studies show mamas get just as much rest when baby is bed-in." That's very counter-intuitive, as it seems like you'd be able to get more sleep if the baby is off crying in a nursery vs crying right next to you. I suppose this would apply more to breastfed babies than formula fed since you have to wake up every time the baby is hungry regardless of where it's sleeping? Anyway, it's interesting.

Shepard Lilley

She said pretty clearly that she wasn't saying these are bad things, and that they are necessary for some women. She even said she did three of them! Stop being so defensive. She openly stated that everyone is different and needs different things, just that these are some things that get OVER done, sometimes unecessarily [which would indicate that SOMETIMES they are necessary and she's not debating that]. Seriously ladies. Read the whole thing, don't just skim down until you find something you can get over-sensitive about. She never attacked you, and yet you are at her throat for no reason. And for those who complain about this site in general in the comments, get off the site!! NO ONE is forcing you to be here.

Shepard Lilley

Elise, I slept better with my baby in the room because I knew where she was and that she was safe. I did that with both babies and I'll do it with this one. I found it hard to sleep when they're not near me, even though they both have their own beds and room now. Some women need the closeness to feel at peace, where others need the quiet to be at peace. Everyone's different.

nonmember avatar Heather S.

I got more sleep when the baby was in my room with me, when she was in the nursery i barley slept.

shyan... shyanntech

With my 2nd son i wanted to have him without c-section.. but i was told since i was in a small town they didn't have the room for me to labor.. i would had to drive 3 hours and then stay there for 3 weeks.. i couldn't do that since i had a 6 year old at home at the time and no family for support other then hubby.. and he couldn't be in 2 places at once... So i had to have the c-section.. but since they had my cut open i also got my tubes burned and tied to.. so it worked out.. but if i was in a better town or city i would have tried for baby 3 but since i couldn't make sure the baby and i would be safe i just got fixed..

Liz132 Liz132

Thank you for talking about this! Spread the word

Kaytlynne Weigold

if my 2nd wasn't sent to the NICU the night he was born, he wouldn't have left my side, some mothers take their children for granted, i think the nurses woke me up more than my newborn ever could with their 2 hour checks on me. My first i spent every minute i could with her after a scary emergency c-section where i had to be put to sleep with the chance i would wake up without a child to take home, everything was ok and she even slept in the bed with me although the nurses kept requesting i put her back in her bedside crib.

Liz Weissmann

i got an ultrasound after 24 weeks. it's how we found out that our baby was breech. it gave us an opportunity to attempt to flip him instead of automatically getting a csection, or having hours of labor and an emergency csection. nothing we tried worked, but at least we knew. we ended up having him via csection, and it turned out he was suck just under my ribs with the cord around his neck. 

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