If you’re not already aware of this unfortunate fact, the US has one of the highest infant-mother mortality rates in the world. While we’re touted as being the most medically advanced, we have an unusually high infant-mother mortality rate. The reason is unnecessary interventions. The belief that birthing is a medical emergency has ushered in an era of medical interventionism. Let’s look more closely at which types of interventions contribute to a high infant mother mortality rate.1. Cesarean Sections (C-Sections) In 1965 the c-section rate was 4.5%, or about 1 in 20 babies were cut out, opposed to being born vaginally. The rate has increased all the way to 33% since then, or 1 in 3 babies are now born by c-sections. There are several reasons why the c-section rate has increased so much. Labor induction with Pitocin, frequent fetal monitoring, epidurals, hospital profit (c-sections bring in more money than vaginal birth), and a medical ignorance to the fact that birth is natural are the biggest contributing factors.
With that in mind, c-section births are 30% more likely to result in the death of the mother when compared to vaginal birth. And the infant mortality rate is increased by almost 3 times.2. Pitocin Pitocin can be used with a positive outcome, but it’s often used to speed up the labor of births with no apparent risk factors; which produces an unnatural and dangerous environment for mother and baby. These are the Pitocin side effects, which are available on the package insert that comes with the drug:
- neonatal jaundice
- permanent central nervous system / brain damage
- fetal heart abnormalities
- fetal death
- low APGAR scores
- neonatal retinal hemorrhage
Of course all drugs have side effects, and we take them knowing the risks. But it’s inexcusable when Pitocin is regularly administered to otherwise healthy low-risk labors, on the sole account of “speeding things up.”3. Epidurals Epidurals are used for pain relief during labor. While death caused directly by epidurals is very rare, women who receive an epidural shot are 2.5 times more likely to receive a Cesarean Section. Since this article is focused on death, I won’t go into the many side effects of epidurals and the fact that over 70% of women who receive an epidural experience side effects; but it’s worth noting that hospitals & OBGYN’s routinely advocate the use of epidurals where they’re unnecessary and unnatural. 4. Hospital Acquired Infections Hospitals can be very dirty places. It doesn’t take too much thought process to understand that where large groups of sick people reside, the potential for said sickness to spread increases. The CDC estimated there were 1.7 million hospital-associated infections with nearly 100,000 deaths in 2002. Birth is not an illness, so how is it (a) safe and (b) logical to have women give birth in a building full of sick people? Those who have a Cesarean Section will have both a scar and a urinary catheter; two risk factors for infection. This means that nearly 4,000 women each year will acquire an infection due to having a cesarean; some of which expectantly resulting in death.
“But hospitals are the safest place to give birth”
A hospital is of course only a physical enclosure. It’s the American hospital culture of willful medical interventionism that makes them unnecessarily dangerous. As I wrote in my personal account of giving birth at home and in hospital, we can see how hospital professionals are more than willing to offer intervention; even without stating the risks. I strongly suggest if you’re set on giving birth in a hospital, to use a midwife opposed to a conventional OBGYN.