New report says minimal intervention best in childbirth

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- In February of 2017, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a committee opinion advising doctors, midwives and hospitals to avoid unnecessary intervention during labor when the patient is low risk. The guidelines reaffirm what doctors at Jefferson OBGYN have been practicing for the past several years.

"It's validating things we have done at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital for years," said Dr. James Culver, a doctor with Jefferson OBGYN. "At this practice, we have worked against this notion that if you come into the hospital, you're going to be put in bed and you're going to have an epidural and you can't have choices."

ACOG's report offers guidelines for when women should be admitted to the hospital in labor, to avoid laboring too long in the hospital and causing unnecessary interventions like a cesarean section. It also discusses options for managing pain during labor, with an emphasis on minimal intervention.

"This really reiterates what we do at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital normally for low-risk patients," said Dr. Kelly Owens, a physician with Jefferson OBGYN.

Some of the suggested practices already in place at Sentara include not placing patients on continuous fetal monitoring in order to allow the laboring woman to move around and allowing for a lot of mom and baby bonding after delivery, according to Dr. Owens.

According to Culver, pregnant women often come to Jefferson OBGYN with a birth plan and an idea of how they want their labor to go, with the preference for a "natural delivery."

"Patients find that's our goal as well," said Culver. "Those are wonderful labors and wonderful labors to be a part of-when patients feel like things go the way they wanted and it was in their control. That's our goal for everyone as well."

But he acknowledged there are cases where medical intervention is necessary and having a trained staff with access to an anesthesiologist and an operating room are helpful and potentially life-saving.

"There are patients who have complications or medical problems that require us to do more," Culver said. "But our goal is for low-risk patients to have a natural labor and a labor they want."

Owens said the delivery experience at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital allows for a lot of decision-making to be done by the patient.

"I tell patients when they come here talking about options for childbirth in Charlottesville, that you can have a home birth in our hospital," said Owens.

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