A new study from Obstetrics & Gynecology indicates that women with low-risk pregnancies, who delivered in a hospital setting with a midwife, may need fewer interventions and cesarean sections (C-sections) than women who saw obstetricians. However, these results may reveal more questions than answers.
The study analyzed over 23,000 deliveries in 11 U.S. hospitals by women who had no prior medical complications or other risk factors. The researchers discovered that the rate of C-sections was 30% lower for first-time mothers and 40% lower for mothers who have previously given birth when they worked with a midwife compared to an obstetrician.
The women who were cared for by midwives also were found to be “less likely to have an epidural, oxytocin (to speed delivery), or an episiotomy compared to those looked after by an obstetrician.” On the other hand, in the group of women who had previously given birth and were under midwife care, there was a higher rate of shoulder dystocia. Ultimately, the researchers couldn’t answer why this rate was higher in this group, but suggest that these women could have had larger babies than those under obstetrician care.
Although the research provides some insight into the results of different maternal care, Dr. Vivienne Souter, research director at the Obstetrical Care Outcomes Assessment Program, has surmised that “[the research team] didn’t have a big enough study to evaluate all outcomes, particularly adverse outcomes. We need more data like this to better understand maternal care in the US and to derive strategies to improve it.” For instance, the researchers did not consider if the women who opted for midwife care were “more committed” to having a vaginal birth than the other group.
Despite the research opening up more questions, it’s exciting to see such innovative action in the field of maternal care.
Please read more about this study here.