January 3, 2006

Oops, Unfire Your Doula; That Study's About Pushing, Not Coaching

You know that recent study that showed coaching a woman during childbirth wasn't really all that effective? Never mind.

According to the NYT interview with the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Steven L. Bloom, the study showed that it's pushing, not coaching that doesn't do anything. Or more precisely, it's coaching someone to push that doesn't.

Turns out it's not at all clear where the whole idea came from for automatically telling women should push during the final stages of labor. "(the researchers say it was not in the medical literature before 1950), Dr. Bloom said part of the goal might have been to decrease the amount of time women were in discomfort." Or maybe it was just that whole Cold War mentality, where we had to beat the Soviets at everything, including the speed with which our superior women popped out their babies.

Childbirth: Rethinking the Big Push During Contractions [nyt via dt reader helena]
Previously: New Study On Birth Coaching: Eh


I'm so glad people are talking about this!

I know two women who recently gave birth and were coached to push so hard that they couldn't get out of bed for several days! Monster hemorrhoids and blood shot eyes were just a bonus.

When I was in labor with my son I could tell distinctly which were "good" contractions and which were fizzles. The good ones pushed the baby forward, and the others did nothing at all. All of my doctor's coaching to push when it didn't feel right acheived nothing except to wear me out.

Without having yet read this new study, I left the hospital with the distinct impression that any injuries I'd incurred during labor were due to all of my doctor's best efforts.

Once again we have to re-learn what our bodies already know!

Ah, I'm glad that you clarified that. Your site came up in a google search I was doing (trying to find myself a doula t-shirt, somehow ended up here!) and I was about to get all indignant. :)

Decreasing the amount of time women were in discomfort? More like decreasing the amount of time the Dr. had to spend waiting. They don't get paid by the hour you know. ;)

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