High C-Section & Induction Rates Aren't Linked To Healthier Babies

pitocin drip and electronic fetal monitor A new study published in the April issue of the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine has been making the rounds in the birth community, and yesterday it landed in the New York Times.

The results of the study suggest that inductions and C-sections for low-risk pregnancy do nothing to improve outcomes for babies. Dr. J. Christopher Glantz, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Rochester–who looked at records from 30,00 births over four years at ten hospitals–concluded that we should probably cut down on these interventions when they are not medically necessary: “I’m not saying that no interventions should be the goal, but when you see the difference in rates of these interventions with no difference in outcome, it leads me to believe that we can get by with fewer of them.”

The idea that far too many inductions and C-sections are not only unnecessary but without redeeming health benefits for infants isn’t news. This has been well established. But the question for the consumer remains, how do I deal with this information?

I have students who come in all the time asking some version of, “how can I avoid having one of those unnecessary c-sections?”

This is my basic answer to that question (How To Avoid An Unnecessary C-Section), but here’s something else to chew on from Dr. Glantz, “I am not saying that no inductions or cesarean sections are beneficial, I’m certain some are. Be clear what the reason is if your obstetrician is suggesting an induction or cesarean section,” he says. “If it is done for marginal reasons or convenience, I don’t think that is a good reason and women should not agree.” Ladies and gentleman, I give you informed consent.

Educate yourself and get a midwife or doctor who does not perform unnecessary medical procedures so you don’t need to worry about all of this the day before you go into labor/get induced.

If you’re pregnant and would like to avoid an unnecessary induction and/or c-section, ask your doctor or midwife right now what his or her rates of these interventions are for low-risk pregnancies. This number will give you an idea of what you can expect. If you don’t like that number, switch to another care-provider.

photo: Miller/Flckr

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