The Risks of Hospital Birth

Hospital births often come with intervention

Many women think that there is no reason to endure the “risks” involved in having a home birth when they can just deliver safely and conveniently in their nearby hospital and then head back to the comfort of their homes afterwards.

But the idea that a hospital is a great place for low risk women to deliver babies is a myth, as Dr. Mercola thoughtfully spelled out last week in this article The Myth of a Safer Hospital Birth for Low-Risk Pregnancies.

The whole article is worth reading but what I found of particular interest is the following table where he outlined exactly what makes hospital births more risky. It may prove useful for those who are on the fence about home birth.

Of course, where a mother delivers her baby is her choice. Some women are filled with fears about labor that they cannot easily overcome, and others believe hospitals to be the epitome of safety and cleanliness. But clean isn’t always a good thing, as I’ve written about before, and safety doesn’t necessarily come in the form of tests and equipment, as studies are beginning to show.

Planned delivery in hospital indicates women fear a bad outcome, which can be a self-fulfilling prophesy Increased fear releases adrenalin and other adrenergic neurotransmitters which can slow down or even stop the birth process Unfamiliar environment, strangers, people in uniform, unfamiliar smells during labor counter mammalian birth instinct Hospital staff are a reservoir of bacteria, which the mother/baby lacks immunity to Lower access to food, drink can cause hypoglycemia and dehydration
Car accidents on the way to hospital Fear and unfamiliar environment increase pain level, which sends stress signals to fetus, provoking negative influence on fetal heart rate Collusion among hospital workers takes precedence over commitment to client and safe protocol Lack of accountability of staff to patients contributes to poor outcomes Laying on back compresses the aorta and vena cava decreasing oxygen delivery to fetus
Continuous fetal monitoring increases pain, decreases oxygenation of fetus, decreases mobility and increases anxiety Hourly vaginal exams push bacteria up into uterus, causing increased rate of infection after 3 exams Overuse of antibiotics kills healthy flora, lowering immune system capability Artificial rupture of membranes (AROM) can cause cord prolapse, increased infection and pain Induction can cause cord prolapse, uterine rupture, amniotic fluid embolism, increased postpartum hemorrhage
Epidural causes fever in 15% of women, which increases neonatal seizures, which can cause brain damage Episiotomy can cause hemorrhage, third and fourth degree extensions, permanent disability. Vacuum increases rate of third and fourth degree tears, causing life long incontinence of urine and feces and sexual disability and increased hemorrhage and for the baby: intracranial hemorrhage, scull fractures, and, rarely, brain damage or fetal death Shoulder dystocia because of delivering in a hospital bed instead of on all 4s Cesarean can cause maternal and perinatal death, and increased maternal and fetal morbidity, lifelong scar pain, infertility, adhesions, decreased nursing success, increased stillbirth and placenta accreta on subsequent pregnancies.
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