Citizens for Midwifery Responds to ACOG 12/12/01 Press Conference Topic: "Cesarean Delivery and Labor Induction: Saving babies? Or is natural better?"

The research evidence is absolutely clear: both artificially inducing labor and using major abdominal surgery (cesarean section) to deliver a baby cause harm and include major health risks to the mother and baby. Inducing labor and performing a cesarean section can, in certain cases, save lives. However, these practices are undeniably harmful when used casually, routinely or for non-medical reasons. In contrast, the Midwives Model of Care is a fundamentally different approach that includes safe, health-promoting and effective "natural" maternity care that avoids harmful and unnecessary drugs and interventions and has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma and cesarean section.

Citizens for Midwifery is increasingly hearing from angry women whose obstetricians lied to them regarding the reason for their induction, which in many cases resulted in a cesarean and other problems, including postpartum depression. Obstetricians are not explaining all the risks and harm associated with inductions and cesareans, but are taking advantage of the trust women have in their doctors.

The rates of inductions and cesareans are rising, and for obstetricians, they are convenient (births can be "scheduled") and cost-effective (more births in less time). An increasing proportion of births now occur on weekdays and fewer on weekends. Forcing birth into a schedule with drugs and surgery without a genuine medical justification harms mothers and babies and is unethical according to ACOG's own "Code of Ethics."

For the great majority of women, natural IS going to be better, both for the mother and for the baby. The problem is that truly natural childbirth is virtually non-existent in hospitals, primarily because most obstetricians totally lack the skills and understanding to effectively help a woman have a healthy natural labor and delivery without drugs or surgery. Most women only hear about hospital policies and medical interventions; their obstetricians do not provide honest and knowledgeable information about the alternatives. The most likely way to have a natural birth is with a midwife practicing the Midwives Model of Care in an out-of-hospital setting; increased access to out-of-hospital birth with qualified direct entry midwives is supported by the American Public Health Association.

If ACOG is really interested in healthy mothers and babies, they would not be touting "elective c-sections," promoting inductions, lying to women, and continuing to routinely use harmful and ineffective protocols and interventions. Instead ACOG would work tirelessly to have their members learn from midwives and women about normal, healthy natural birth and to incorporate the Midwives Model of Care as the standard for maternity care.