Birth Choices Prevent Birth Injuries (part 1 of 2)

Birth is the intimate time between mother and newborn infant. Unfortunately, hospital doctors do not always respect the time and care an injury-free birth takes. Too often hospital birth injuries occur when doctors speed up birth, forcing a birth to fit a mechanized schedule through surgery and drugs.

With 98% of U.S. births occurring in hospitals, it is important for a mother to know how doctor-intervention during labor can result in birth injuries and the birth options and rights every mother has.

The Sad State of Birth in U.S. Hospitals

Many women – at least during their first birth – feel safer having birth in the hospital. Hospitals intuitively seem like the healthiest place to have children. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case for hospitals in the United States.

Data from the 2007 CIA World Fact Book, among the most trusted resources on the planet, suggests U.S. hospitals are among the most dangerous of any developed nation to give birth in.

The U.S. has an infant mortality rate of 6.37 infant mortalities per 1,000 live births. This places U.S. hospitals behind Cuba and South Korea and ranks the U.S. with such countries as Lithuania (6.68), Belarus (6.63), and Croatia (6.60) in its rate of infant mortalities. (click to open 2007 infant mortality chart)

Why Birth Injuries Occur in U.S. Hospitals

Birth injuries, both mother and infant injuries, occur in our hospitals because U.S. doctors are trained to intervene. This is one main difference between hospital births in America where infant mortality and injury are more common and in Japan, Sweden, and France (all three in top five fewest infant mortality-to-live birth ratio). In other industrialized countries, surgery during birth is a last resort. Because these birth choices are less routine, doctors in other countries are more aware of the dangers, which may mean less incidents of doctor negligence and fewer birth injuries.

Often U.S. doctors feel they must interfere to relieve birth pain or to hurry a birth along. Staff shortages and treatment of the laboring mother both contribute to this but are not the only causes. Birth doctors in Japan also have little interaction with the mother.1 The main difference is the use of pain-relieving drugs in the United States.

When doctors hurry the natural birth process, the likelihood of birth complications like dystocia and birth injuries like cerebral palsy increases.

Click to continue Birth Choices Prevent Birth Injuries Page 2

1) Gray, Andy. 2003. “Giving Birth, Having a Baby in Japan.” Written by a husband on the birth of his child in Japan, the article notes cultural difference in medical practices that indicate why Japan has a significantly lower infant mortality rate. Back to the top


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