Are more and more of your friends talking about the medications they used in labor? Have there been more Cesareans (aka "C-section") that you've heard about then say 5, 10, or 20 years ago? Are you pregnant and hearing your provider freely talk about medications that you may be encountering during your labor? Have you asked your provider about his/her Cesarean rate? Or how often he orders Pitocin and Epidurals? It might just be a good idea to ask.
Medical interventions and risky drugs are a huge factor in the increase of the C-section rate to 30.2% (Statistics compiled by CDC in 2005 up from 29.1% in 2004). You have to figure it is much higher now in 2008.
During labor in hospitals today there is an increase use of risky drugs and unnecessary medical interventions. With the use of Epidurals, Pitocin, and unnecessary C-sections many providers are making unsafe decisions for their convenience of shortening the labor. Some providers perform unnecessary C-sections in fear of malpractice if they continue the laboring process naturally and the slim slim chance that something MIGHT go wrong. The Phrase "once a section, always a section" is never truer then right now AND is to the advantage of the provider. If you birth your first baby by C-section than all your other babies can be scheduled and birthed by C-section in 20 minutes of the provider's time. How snappy is that for health care professionals who just want to get the laboring process over with?
As an RN, and midwife I have witnessed the use of risky drugs and unnecessary medical interventions in hospitals in almost epidemic proportions. The hospital I'm currently working at in San Diego has an epidural rate of 98% and a C-section rate before the weekends way over the national average of 30.2%, some Fridays I've seen it as high as 75%. Hey, for the provider, that means no laboring women over the weekends. You might ask why the concern on the use of Epidurals when most of your friends have used and loved it? Epidurals have many more complications then the provider is willing to tell you about.
Drop her blood pressure to a dangerous low
- Cause uncontrollable shivering
- Allergic reaction like itching to the face and body
- Nausea and vomiting
- Postpartum backache that can last for years
- Maternal fever that could result in her baby getting unnecessary lab work
- Spinal headaches
- Feeling of emotion detachment
- Inability to move about freely during labor
- Stopping labor and needing other medications to resume labor
- Loss of sensation and sexual function
- Fetal distress, abnormal fetal heart rate (needing C-section)
- Drowsiness and poor sucking and breastfeeding
- Poor muscle strength and muscle tone in the first few hours
- Prolonged first and second stage labor
- Increased incidence of malpresentation of baby's head
- Increase the need for Pitocin to accelerate labor
- Decrease the ability to push effectively
- Increase the likelihood of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Increase the need for episiotomy
- Increased the likelihood of C-section
For the mother in labor it can:
For Your Baby
With the use of an Epidural there is a higher chance that an IV drip of Pitocin will be ordered, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin (which causes the uterus to contract). The risk of Pitocin is that it can cause your uterus to contract so hard and so rapidly that it stresses you and your baby to the point that it is safer to perform a C-section then to let you continue labor and birth your baby vaginally.
Some providers during your prenatal visits promise natural childbirth but sing another song when you enter the hospital in labor. They jump at the idea of medical interventions and risky drugs before they suggest the birth ball or shower for increasing your labor. Some L&D nurses don't give you a lot of chances to use the natural methods you were hoping for because, having you on an Epidural sleeping is a lot less work for them then having you in the shower, on the birth ball or walking the halls in labor.
As an RN watching all this, and wishing pregnant couples knew what was happening in hospitals has inspired me to write "Hey! Who's Having This Baby Anyway?"
"Hey! Who's Having This Baby Anyway?" shows the laboring couple that during their pregnancy, they can find the right provider, know about the medications in labor, alternatives to their use, how to create a birth plan that works, about labor management, yoga and other ways to stay in control of their baby's birth.
Also in this book you will find why the increase of C-sections has haunted our hospitals and laboring couples and how easy it is to insure that it can be prevented in your birth.