Needs of Healthy Childbearing Women
What proportion of pregnant women are at low risk for problems?
Do low-risk pregnant women receive appropriate maternity care?
What do healthy childbearing women need?
What kind of maternity care is appropriate if I'm healthy and low-risk?
Why should I avoid routine interventions if I'm healthy and low-risk?
Many programs address the important needs of the minority of pregnant women who have medical problems, or are at a high risk for developing them. But, limited attention is given to ensure that the millions of healthy women who give birth every year receive the appropriate care. Childbirth Connection and this website address the needs of this group.
support these processes and avoid interfering with them, labor, birth, attachment, and breastfeeding reflect these processes, and the need for medical intervention is limited. It is important to find caregivers and places for giving birth that understand, respect, and work with these inborn processes.
Maternity care that is supportive and respectful, and that reflects the best available research about safe and effective care, has the best potential to lead to:
Listening to Mothers survey found high rates of intervention among women giving birth in U.S. hospitals. Examples of commonly used interventions include: inducing labor, using continuous electronic fetal monitoring, giving intravenous fluids, and cutting an episiotomy. Women themselves may also request interventions that are not medically needed, such as labor induction for convenient scheduling.
Although select women in specific situations may benefit from such maternity interventions, the best research finds that many interventions do not offer benefits to healthy women but do increase their risk for potentially harmful side effects.
If there is no clear, well-supported justification for use, it is wise to avoid interventions because they may:
The chain of unintended effects of maternity interventions has been called a "cascade of intervention." Many women feel that their bodies have failed them, and are unaware that things that have gone wrong were triggered by maternity practices themselves.
Moreover, the use of unnecessary interventions compromises the quality of maternity care and wastes resources of the employers, governments and families who pay for this care.
Most recent page update: 7/11/2011
© 2014 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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Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
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Check out our resource, "What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know about Cesarean Section."