Medical Interventions in Birth

I love it when we see God’s wisdom through his perfect design! I have a special appreciation for it in the realm of birth.

The trailer for the documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, is below.  Without directly giving glory to God, it does reveal his wisdom.  Many medical experts speak about the dangers of intervening in the “natural” birth process, which Christians know to be God’s designed process.

Unnecessary Interventions (which lead to more interventions)

Man never makes things better when we add to, or take away from, God’s perfect ways. Admittedly, sin and sickness affect his perfect ways, so I do believe we are blessed to have skilled doctors able to intervene when there is a true need.  But only a fraction of the massive amount of intervening we are doing in the US is in response to true need.

In addition to being unnecessary most of the time, interventions often create a need for more interventions.  Consider this fact presented by one of the experts in this documentary, “If you get an induction that is unnecessary and you’re not really in labor, there is a 40% chance you will end up with an emergency section.”

Nearly one in THREE women giving birth in a US hospital will end up with a c-section. Sadly, only a small fraction of them would have been necessary if the birth had been allowed to unfold naturally, at its own pace.

Medical Model vs. Midwifery Model

Even more stunningly, for all of the medical know-how we have here, the United States ranks 46th in infant mortality rate.  This means 45 countries have better statistics than we do. Our medical performance is on par with that of Guam, Cuba, Croatia and Belarus.  We have over double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world according to the CIA World Factbook.

In contrast to our medical approach to birth, and its dim success, is the midwifery system. Midwives attend the vast majority of births in the industrialized countries with the best outcomes.  Yet in the United States, midwives are the principal attendants at only a small percentage of births.

“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that uses surgeons to attend normal childbirth,” states Marsdsen Wagner, MD Former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health in the World Health Organization.

US Women Fear Birth

Why aren’t more US moms using midwives to assist them with birth?  Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, a Family Practice Physician, thinks it’s because most moms in our society believe that they could not have a baby without some kind of medical intervention.  She says, “We’ve gone so far off course in our prenatal care and in our public policy messages, that most women don’t think they can deliver a baby without technology-driven interventions. And we know certainly that that is just not true.” 

Those of us who have seen or experienced midwife-assisted births are saddened by this fear. Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM, and Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth, Inc. says, “Of all the experiences you have in your lifetime, having a child is one of the most miraculous and amazing times.  And I am so saddened by the amount of fear, and trepidation, and concern, and worry that surrounds that event.”

Questions and Answers

How much better off would mother and baby be if the events of birth were left to unfold without the restrictions of time, convenience, or fear of liability?  How can we reduce the infant mortality rate and increase the health of babies? How do we educate women so that they are free to enjoy the birth process without the fear that so many in our society automatically have?

This 17 minute documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, explores these questions and proposes solutions.


3 thoughts on “Medical Interventions in Birth

  1. I was actually working on a blog on the same topic (posted today).

    Research shows that at average levels used for induction or augmentation/acceleration, a woman’s oxytocin levels will be 130 to 570 times higher than she would naturally produce in labor.

    This stat frightened me. I so wish more women were educated on this topic before they induce by choice and not for health risks. It makes me sad. 😦

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