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CONSUMER REPORTS: Back to Basics For Safer Childbirth
Date:10/8/2008

that can mean poorer outcomes for baby and Mom. Test your knowledge with our quiz below, and then learn more in our report (http://www.consumerreportshealth.org/).

True or false

An obstetrician will deliver better maternity care, overall, than a midwife or family doctor.

False. Studies show that the 8 percent to 9 percent of U.S. women who use midwives and the 6 to 7 percent who choose family physicians generally experienced just-as-good results as those who go to obstetricians. Those who used midwives also ended up with fewer technological interventions. For example, women who received midwifery care were less likely to experience induced labor, have their water broken for them, episiotomies, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and electronic fetal monitoring, and were more likely to give birth vaginally with no vacuum extraction or forceps, than similar women receiving medical care. Note that an obstetric specialist is best for the small proportion of women with serious health concerns.

Induced labor can halt fetal development.

True. The vital organs (including the brain and lungs) continue to develop beyond the 37th week of gestation. There is also a five-fold increase in the brain's white-matter volume between 35 and 41 weeks after conception. Inducing labor (with synthetic oxytocin, for example) might stop this growth if the fetus is not fully developed. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of women whose labor was induced more than doubled.

Due-date estimates can be off by up to two weeks.

True. This inaccuracy can lead to a baby being delivered by induction or Caesarean section up to two weeks earlier than its estimated due-date, cutting off important weeks of fetal development.

"Breaking the waters" helps hasten labor.

False. There is no evidence to support the fact that this common practice (about 47% of women) shortens labor, inc
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SOURCE Consumer Reports
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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