Mothers and Babies at Risk by Unnecessary Interventions

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Mothers and Babies at Risk by Unnecessary Interventions

This article originally appeared on on January 13, 2015.

New Scientific Report: Unnecessary Medical Interventions in Labor and Delivery May be Putting Mothers, Babies at Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 13, 2015 —

The country’s maternity care system is missing opportunities to provide better care and use resources more wisely by routinely intervening in labor and delivery in ways that interfere with, instead of promoting, supporting and protecting, innate biological processes that result in healthier outcomes for women and newborns. That is the conclusion of a major new report, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care, released today. The unprecedented synthesis of scientific research on how hormone systems function from late pregnancy through the early postpartum period concludes that commonly used maternity interventions — such as labor induction, epidural analgesia, and cesarean section — can disturb hormonal processes and interfere with the benefits they offer.

The new report was authored by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley and released by Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. It synthesizes evidence about the impacts of common maternity care practices and interventions on four hormonal systems that are consequential for childbearing. It finds that a large body of evidence demonstrates that the hormonal physiology of childbearing has significant benefits for the health of mothers and babies and can optimize breastfeeding and maternal-infant attachment. But it concludes that common maternity care interventions may disturb hormonal processes, reduce their benefits, and create new challenges. The report’s recommendations have implications for policy, practice, education, consumer engagement, and research.

“We issue this report at a moment when there is growing recognition that patterns of maternity care in the United States are contributing to unnecessarily high rates of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality and excess costs,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “It should be a wake-up call for the maternity care system and for childbearing women. We need to ensure that, going forward, we use our precious resources wisely and in ways that benefit women and babies.”

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