10 ‘Standard’ Childbirth Procedures You Should Skip

Health Check 140

10 Childbirth procedures to avoid

In the past couple hundred years, doctors have found many ways to make childbirth safer and less painful. But as many of us know first-hand, not all of the changes in modern childbirth have actually been good for laboring women or their babies. In fact, in the U.S., the rate of maternal deaths in childbirth is actually on the rise. So are the numbers of low-weight and premature births. What are we doing wrong? It could be our increasing reliance on unnecessary pregnancy procedures that prioritize convenience and cost-saving over the health of moms and babies.

Sometimes in pregnancy or labor, you find yourself in an emergency and your doctor intervenes to save your life or the life of your baby. But other times women are urged to go along with procedures that aren't medically necessary, and we may not even realize we have a choice. Here are 10 procedures expecting moms should avoid if you don't really need them.

1. Scheduling an early delivery. “Women who are induced early are more likely to need other interventions and to wind up delivering their babies surgically through a cesarean section and the infants are more likely to require intensive care," says Maureen Corry, M.P.H., Executive Director at Childbirth Connection. Plus, babies born at full-term rather than earlier have far fewer health problems.

More from The Stir: 5 Hospital Procedures That Ruin Your Birth

2. Inducing labor when it's not medically necessary. Sometimes moms are induced at full-term for reasons of convenience, theirs or the doctors. But this can cause problems. First, this means more of your labor happens at the hospital rather than at home. Worse, you're laboring before your body may actually be ready. Inductions also increase your chances of a C-section.

3. Elective C-sections for low-risk, first-time moms. The rate of C-sections is on the rise, and not all of them are medically necessary. “The safest method for both mom and baby is an uncomplicated vaginal birth,” says Catherine Spong, M.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

4. Second C-sections. If first baby is delivered via C-section, don't assume you're stuck with C-sections for the rest of your babies. Around three quarters of women who attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesearean) actually do deliver vaginally, so it's worth talking about with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate.

5. Ultrasound after 24 weeks. Studies show this will not give your doctor reliable information that can lead to a better outcome. If anything, late-term ultrasounds are linked with slightly higher rates of C-sections.

6. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Unless you're on oxytocin or an epidural, or you're in a high-risk birth, this is just going to restrict your movements and make labor more difficult for you. Ask your nurses if they can use a hand-held monitor or stethoscope or periodic checks instead.

7. Early epidural. Don't be so afraid of the pain that you ask for an epidural before you really need one. Epidurals can slow down your labor and lead to other complications.

More from The Stir: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Epidurals But Were Afraid to Ask

8. Rupturing your membranes. Breaking your water won't strengthen or hurry along your labor. Instead, it could put you at higher risk for a C-section and other complications.

9. Episiotomy. You know, that incision doctors make to open your vagina? Oh my God, is anyone still doing these anymore? Your vagina was designed to stretch -- it doesn't need to be cut open wider! Not necessary. Tearing naturally does happen occasionally, but there are things you and your provider can do to minimize the likelihood that you'll tear at all.

10. Sending your baby to the nursery right away. They don't have to whisk that baby away so quickly if you don't want them to. As long as you're both healthy and well, you're better off spending some time bonding together from the beginning. Tired? Need a rest? Studies show moms who part with their babies immediately don't get any more sleep than moms who hold onto their babies longer. Something to think about.

The more stories I hear, the more amazed I am to hear how much labor varies from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital. So ask about these BEFORE you go into labor. Don't worry about looking foolish -- just ask your doctor or midwife what their standard practice for all these procedures is. Hopefully, you can avoid all of these unnecessary procedures and enjoy a safer, more healthy delivery.

Have you ever regretted getting a procedure you didn't really need?


Image via Ocean/Corbis

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Amber Showalter

You also don't need to send the baby to be circ'ed either. Let them remain normal, safe, and the way they born-perfect

sylph... sylph_ironlight

With my first, I was terrified of having an episiotomy. When I asked my OBGYN about it, he made me feel as though it was his decision, and if I decided not to gt one when he wanted to give one, that it would end a lot worse than the episiotomy. "You can have one, or you can decide against it, I'll just spend the hour after your labour stitching you up from you tearing". I couldn't believe it. Ended up with an emergency C-section, so didn't have to worry about stitches-down there anyway.

With my second, I had moved and had a different OBGYN. I asked him the same thing, and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said in 17 years of practicing, he has never given an episiotomy-he prefers to let you tear naturally if needed. I ended up having a VBAC and only needed 2 stitches.

And hospitals in the states still have nurseries? Every hospital in Ontario that I've ever been to, the baby stays in the room with the parents unless you requst a nurse take it-so you can sleep, shower, etc.

adamat34 adamat34

Can we please.let the medical professionals who did 12+ years of training help us make good choices for this??? Sometimes what you planned isnt gonna happen due to any variying number of issues/risks.....

If your doc is trustworthy enough to put his hand in you vag, listen, hes not stupid. Thats why we have doctors!!!!

wamom223 wamom223

These are all things that were covered in my birthing class and were listed in every book I read about delivery so it surprises me that some woman still don't know these things.  What I didn't know, which I wish I would of, was that I had every right to demand how I wanted to give birth.  Even though I was high risk and it was a very premature delivery I should not have had to be in a position that I hated and felt made everything harder.  I think more woman need to learn to use their voice in the moment but in my experience (just mine) everything happened so fast and I was so scared I basically did as I was told because I didn't want to risk my his health.

katyq katyq

I agree with wamom.

nonmember avatar mommy of 8

It's funny that there's a comment in regards to the doctors with 12+ years of training.... well it's because of one of those doctors I almost died leaving me with some of my placenta inside after I complained numerous times. Never listened or considered me. After that I went to having beautiful home water births and they have been amazing and trouble free.

tansy... tansyflower

adamat34 you are an idiot.  are you seriously telling me you would let any doctor stick their hand in your vag or worse be in charge of your child's health just because he has a certificate on the wall?  maybe you are not interested in being informed but thats your choice.  i want all the information possible and a trusted professional who cares more about my my health and my birth than if he is going to make it to his tee time.

nonmember avatar mommy of 8

I agree with tansyflower. I trust my body and myself enough to just not go by the medical book or a doctor. I was told I needed a c section due to carrying a big baby. I declined....had a natural birth of 6 hours with 3 pushs to a 12lb 1 oz baby. Very little natural tearing that healed beautifully on its own.

wamom223 wamom223

Yeah I have not liked every doctor I had and I think you should ask them questions even when you do.  I trusted my mid wife but when my water broke at 32 weeks but she had to pass me on to a doctor and Thank God I liked and trusted him.  I do agree with adamat34 that sometimes you do need to let go of what you planned and go with the flow.  I will admit the first meeting with the doctor was tense when he asked me what my birth plan was until I answered "to deliver a healthy baby."  For me it wasnt' the doctor I had trouble with but a really bitchy loud nurse!  I think a safe way to go about it is to take in with the doctor says but try to follow your gut.

da_mi... da_miranda

i wonder what are this blogger references before saying we cant trust our doctors with their respectful knowledge base

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