High-Tech vs. High-Touch — Consumer Reports on Childbirth

In an article titled “Back to basics for safer childbirth,” and subtitled “Too many doctors and hospitals are overusing high-tech procedures,” Consumer Reports finds the same problems with modern birth practices for low-risk women that natural-birth advocates have been reporting for years: overuse of high-tech, often invasive measures, and underuse of high-touch, usually non-invasive measures.

Overuse of high-tech measures

  • Inducing labor. The percentage of women whose labor was induced more than doubled between 1990 and 2005
  • Use of epidural painkillers, which might cause adverse effects, including rapid fetal heart rate and poor performance on newborn assessment tests
  • Delivery by Caesarean section, which is estimated to account for one-third of all U.S births in 2008, will far exceed the World Health Organization’s recommended national rate of 5 to 10 percent
  • Electronic fetal monitoring, unnecessarily adding to delivery costs
  • Rupturing membranes (“breaking the waters”), intending to hasten onset of labor
  • Episiotomy, which is often unnecessary

Underuse of high-touch, noninvasive measures

  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Use of midwife or family physician
  • Continuous presence of a companion for the mother during labor
  • Upright and side-lying positions during labor and delivery, which are associated with less severe pain than lying down on one’s back
  • Vaginal birth (VBAC) for most women who have had a previous Caesarean section
  • Early mother-baby skin-to-skin contact

They also have a link to a true-false quiz on maternity care (I scored 100%).

Now that Consumer Reports has jumped on the natural-birth bandwagon, maybe, just maybe, all those people who denigrate natural birth advocates will shut up. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? 🙂

My thanks to Empowering Birth for the link to the article!


5 Responses

  1. Hey, no fair! You beat me to it! I was going to include that on my birth blog. Well, I guess double publicity wouldn’t be bad…. And I may not get around to it anyway!

    Keep up the great work on this blog!!!

  2. 🙂

    Don’t worry about double publicity — since the time I read this article the first time until now, I’ve seen it on at least 5 other blogs. Your readers may not be my readers, so blog away! 🙂 (Besides, I like to write about things that I find interesting and want to remember, so my blog is kinda like an online bookmark with extensive [sometimes *very* extensive :-)] notes. Then when something jogs my memory, I just have to look back through my old posts to see what I blogged about.)

  3. I think it is funny that you mentioned that you look back through old posts to see what you’ve blogged about before–just this past week I posted a quote to one of my blogs and then was doing a search for another post to link it to and discovered that lo and behold, I’d already posted that exact same quote months prior! LOL!

    Speaking of which, I briefly mentioned and linked to this Consumer Reports article and quiz on the CfM blog back in October. I’m not sure why it is suddenly in the public eye now–but it is cool that it is! I’ve received like three email announcements about it from different groups too. Love the first quiz question!


    • Well, if you mentioned it in October, I’m sure I read about it then, but I have no memory of it! :-0

      And I’ve done the same thing — had some post kicking around in my head for a few days, and when I went to type it out, I checked my old posts for a link I had used, and found that what I was planning on posting… I already had posted. :-/ Then, what’s the point of repeating myself? 🙂

  4. This is the first time I’ve seen this, so I’m glad you posted it!

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