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Why Aren't More Women Choosing Natural Childbirth?

I have been encountering this question repeatedly since I started my journey to become a Lamaze teacher, and the more statistics I see, the more the pieces are falling into the puzzle.

It started when I began reading the Official Lamaze Guide preparing for the Lamaze workshop I was going to be taking last July.

Within the first couple pages of the book (page5) I came across some amazing statistics focusing around a survey of real mothers from 2002.  The Listening to Mothers Survey.

” In spite of evidence, U.S. maternity care continues to sabotage normal birth rather than support it. In 2002, the Listening to Mothers survey learned that among nearly 1,600 new mothers across the U.S., 44% had labor induced, 71% did not move freely during labor, 93% had electronic fetal monitoring, 86% had intravenous lines, 74% gave birth on their backs, and almost 50% of their babies spent the first hours after birth with hospital staff. Only 1% of the women experienced all six care practices that promote normal birth, and none of these women gave birth in a hospital.”

The six care practices they are speaking of are the base for what Lamaze teaches in childbirth today.

Lots of alarming statistics in there. Of course the survey only included 1,600 women, but it does give us a real look into the way women are giving birth today, despite evidence showing these practices are outdated, unfounded, or harmful rather than helpful.

44% of women had their labor induced!!

That is a huge number for labor induction, especially since labor should only be induced in a medical situation. Letting labor begin on its own is key for a successful natural birth experience for so many women. It is also the way our bodies are meant to work, and the natural stages of pregnancy, and life in general. We need to stop interfering with a natural process with no indication of actually needing to step in.  Inductions lead to more epidurals, more cesarean sections, pit to distress, and many more complications including premature babies.

71% of women did not move freely during labor.
Being confined to a bed while laboring is not ideal by any means, not only does it decrease the size of your pelvis, but it also can cause lowered blood pressure, and fetal distress.

93% had electronic fetal monitoring.
Even though numbers of studies have shown no improved outcome to mothers and babies with electronic fetal monitoring. Also, recently there has been a number of controversial articles about fetal monitoring and how providers, or medical professionals are reading the fetal heart tones.  Many think that the over analyzable of small decelarations in fetal heart tones is leading to a higher rate of unnecessary cesarean births.

86% had IV Lines.
Meaning, the hospital providers had easier access to give mother things like pitocin with or without her consent. If I had a dime for every woman that told me she was put on pitocin without even being asked, or told it was going to be starting in her IV line, I would be a millionaire!  Unfortunately until women start complaining about this practice, it is not going to change.

74% gave birth on their backs.
Which we know is probably the worst position for a woman to give birth in. I recently wrote about this in two posts, Positions You Should Be Giving Birth In Part 1 and Part 2. Decreased pelvis size, blood pressure complications, lack of gravity to help with the birth itself are all huge factors in the lithotomy position.

50% of babies spent the first hours of life with hospital staff!
Horrible!  After birth, in those first few hours, it is the most critical time for mother-infant bonding. Between breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, and the hormones a mother releases with birth, it is so important for these babies to be with their mothers, not with a stranger.

Only 1% of these women experiences all 6 Lamaze Healthy Birth Practies
Surprising, but not all that surprising to me. Of course they were not in a hospital setting, because if they were in a hospital, they would not have experienced all 6, or even just a few. Hospitals are becoming more and more unfriendly for normal birth practices, as well as less and less Mother & Baby friendly.

So is it really women who are not choosing natural births, or is it the hospitals making it impossible forthose who do wish to have a natural birth experience?

photo: flickr.com/amcdawes

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