ACOG Committee Opinion No. 766: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth


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Abstract

Obstetrician–gynecologists, in collaboration with midwives, nurses, patients, and those who support them in labor, can help women meet their goals for labor and birth by using techniques that require minimal interventions and have high rates of patient satisfaction. Many common obstetric practices are of limited or uncertain benefit for low-risk women in spontaneous labor. For women who are in latent labor and are not admitted to the labor unit, a process of shared decision making is recommended to create a plan for self-care activities and coping techniques. Admission during the latent phase of labor may be necessary for a variety of reasons, including pain management or maternal fatigue. Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor. Data suggest that for women with normally progressing labor and no evidence of fetal compromise, routine amniotomy need not be undertaken unless required to facilitate monitoring. The widespread use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring has not been shown to significantly affect such outcomes as perinatal death and cerebral palsy when used for women with low-risk pregnancies. Multiple nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic techniques can be used to help women cope with labor pain. Women in spontaneously progressing labor may not require routine continuous infusion of intravenous fluids. For most women, no one position needs to be mandated or proscribed. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should be familiar with and consider using low-interventional approaches, when appropriate, for the intrapartum management of low-risk women in spontaneous labor. Birthing units should carefully consider adding family-centric interventions that are otherwise not already considered routine care and that can be safely offered, given available environmental resources and staffing models. These family-centric interventions should be provided in recognition of the value of inclusion in the birthing process for many women and their families, irrespective of delivery mode. This Committee Opinion has been revised to incorporate new evidence for risks and benefits of several of these techniques and, given the growing interest on the topic, to incorporate information on a family-centered approach to cesarean birth.

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