New Birth Guidelines Call for Less Intervention, More Trust in Moms

Maternity patient ready for delivery

Moms love to share their birth stories, including the good, the bad, and the "juicy" details that are really TMI. No two birthing experiences are exactly the same, but one common complaint you hear among mothers is how much their care provider intervened, especially when moms feel like it wasn't needed. Today, moms can breathe a sigh of relief, because it seems experts have finally taken note of these frustrations. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) just released new guidelines that encourage less intervention during childbirth.


The ACOG's Committee on Obstetric Practice, in collaboration with the American College of Nurse-Midwives, released a new committee opinion that recommends ob-gyns and other childbirth practitioners "reevaluate common labor and delivery practices and techniques" in an effort to provide a birthing experience with "minimal interventions and high rates of patient satisfaction."

This new guideline seeks to inspire changes that will allow moms with low-risk pregnancies -- those who don't show signs of complications that would require medical intervention -- to labor without any medically unnecessary interference.

More from CafeMom: 10 Natural Ways to Encourage Labor When You Want That Baby Out! 

"Many common obstetric practices are of limited or uncertain benefit for low-risk women in spontaneous labor," the experts involved with the new guidelines note in their opinion. "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."

So, what does this actually mean for laboring moms?

For starters, the new guidelines state that moms who are in labor should consider waiting until they are five to six centimeters dilated before heading to the hospital -- assuming the baby is okay and your care provider gives you the thumbs-up, of course -- as studies have found that laboring moms admitted during the latent (early) stages of labor often end up with more interventions.

More from CafeMom: Are You in Labor? When to Go to the Hospital

The committee opinion also hopes care providers will reconsider using continuous fetal heart rate monitoring that requires moms to remain stationary and thus prohibits movement throughout their labor. And, speaking of movement, the committee also states that "for most women, no one labor position needs to be mandated nor proscribed." In other words, laboring moms might be free to move around the delivery room -- yay!

The new guidelines also advise doctors to let Mom use the breathing and pushing methods she likes, stating, "Each woman should be encouraged to use the technique that she prefers and that is most effective for her."

If that's not reason enough to celebrate, the experts also want birthing practitioners to give mothers the emotional support they need and deserve: "Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor."

More from CafeMom: 14 Moms Reveal Their Biggest Delivery Room Regrets

Thinking about the ACOG's new guidelines makes me hopeful that mothers with low-risk pregnancies will have more say and control over their birthing experience. Both of my children were born in hospitals, and while I'm thankful to have had natural childbirth experiences with each kiddo, I wish some of these recommendations -- like being able to move around more -- were in play. That definitely would've made giving birth a little less frustrating.

Technology and medical intervention are important to the birthing process -- often, they can be life-saving -- but that doesn't mean there's no room to pump the breaks and allow women in labor to let their bodies have some control over the process, too.

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