Examples of Safe and Effective Care

How do I know what practices are consistent with the best research about safe and effective care for mothers and babies?

You will want to choose a caregiver and a birth setting that offer the highest standard of care. In health care today, this means providing "evidence-based care," that is, care that is informed by the best available research.

The best research repeatedly shows that women and infants who are well and healthy do not benefit from the routine or frequent use of many commonplace tests, procedures, restrictions, and drugs. In fact, the routine use of interventions with healthy childbearing women can cause many problems and can lead to a cascade of intervention. For these reasons, interventions should only be used with clear reason to expect that they will do more good than harm.

What maternity care is consistent with the best research, if you are well and without specific health concerns?

Here are some examples of safe and effective practice around the time of birth:
  • you are not required to be attached to an IV (intravenous line) in labor
  • you are free to drink and eat in labor, according to your interest
  • you are encouraged to stay active in labor and to use positions that are most comfortable for you
  • you are encouraged to avoid pushing and giving birth while lying on your back
  • you are not given an episiotomy (a cut to enlarge the opening of the vagina just before birth) as a routine procedure
  • you and your baby are kept together from the time of birth
  • you are encouraged to breastfeed and receive good information and support about breastfeeding.
Although withholding oral nourishment, using an intravenous line, and other practices noted above may be of value in certain situations, they are restrictive and unnecessary for most.

For more detailed information about labor and birth practices that are and are not supported by the best research, see the Maternity Center Association's brochure, Your Guide to Safe and Effective Care During Labor and Birth.
Most recent page update: 2/6/2006

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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