1.) Alternative versus conventional institutional settings for birth.
Hodnett ED, Downe S, Walsh D, Weston J. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Sep 8;(9)
Alternative institutional settings have been established for the care of pregnant women who prefer and require little or no medical intervention. The settings may offer care throughout pregnancy and birth, or only during labour; they may be part of hospitals or freestanding entities. Specially designed labour rooms include bedroom-like rooms, ambient rooms, and Snoezelen rooms.
Primary: to assess the effects of care in an alternative institutional birth environment compared to care in a conventional institutional setting. Secondary: to determine if the effects of birth settings are influenced by staffing, architectural features, organizational models or geographical location.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 May 2010).
All randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials which compared the effects of an alternative institutional maternity care setting to conventional hospital care.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:
We used standard methods of the Cochrane Collaboration Pregnancy and Childbirth Group. Two review authors evaluated methodological quality. We performed double data entry and have presented results using risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Nine trials involving 10684 women met the inclusion criteria. We found no trials of freestanding birth centres or Snoezelen rooms. Allocation to an alternative setting increased the likelihood of: no intrapartum analgesia/anaesthesia (five trials, n = 7842; RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.35); spontaneous vaginal birth (eight trials; n = 10,218; RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.06); breastfeeding at six to eight weeks (one trial, n = 1147; RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.06); and very positive views of care (two trials, n = 1207; RR 1.96, 95% CI 1.78 to 2.15). Allocation to an alternative setting decreased the likelihood of epidural analgesia (seven trials, n = 9820; RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.89); oxytocin augmentation of labour (seven trials, n = 10,020; RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.91); and episiotomy (seven trials, n = 9944; RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.90). There was no apparent effect on serious perinatal or maternal morbidity/mortality, other adverse neonatal outcomes, or postpartum hemorrhage. No firm conclusions could be drawn regarding the effects of variations in staffing, organizational models, or architectural characteristics of the alternative settings.
When compared to conventional settings, hospital-based alternative birth settings are associated with increased likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth, reduced medical interventions and increased maternal satisfaction.
2.) Low-risk pregnant women in an obstetric department--how do they give birth?
Moen MS, et al. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2005 Oct 6;125(19):2635-7.
The aim of the study was to investigate the obstetric outcome for low-risk pregnant women delivering in a larger community hospital with 1800 deliveries annually. The investigation was carried out before the implementation of a differentiated plan for maternity care.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
From January through June 2002, 920 women delivered. 520 were retrospectively considered low risk with spontaneous start of labour (56.5% of all labours). They were selected according to defined criteria. The results of this group with 197 nulliparous (37.7%) and 323 multiparous (62.1%) women are presented.
There were 520 live newborns. 466 infants (89.6%) had an Apgar score > or = 8 after 1 minute; 509 a score > or = 8 after 5 minutes. In this low-risk group, 10.4% instrumental deliveries were performed, 2.7% caesareans and 7.7% vacuum extractions. In nulliparous women, the instrumental delivery rate was 19.7%, among the multiparous 4.6%. A surprisingly high number of low-risk women (38.7 %) were stimulated during labour with oxytocin, 62% of the primiparous and 24% of the multiparous. The indications for this were often obscure. Among oxytocin-stimulated primiparous women, 31.2% had an instrumental delivery, against 1.3% in non-stimulated women. Epidural analgesia was given to 22.3% of all low-risk women; of these, 91.4% received oxytocin. 3.1% had a perineal tear grade > or = 3.
The assistance given to women in a larger community hospital is more geared towards progress of labour than that given in smaller hospitals and midwife-controlled maternity homes. Frequent use of oxytocin to enhance contractions and epidural analgesia probably increases the rate of instrumental deliveries. This investigation points to the necessity of developing differentiated plans for maternity care given to low-risk women delivering in larger community hospitals, in line with a policy adopted by the Norwegian parliament.
3.) Characteristics and practices of birth centres in Australia.
Laws PJ, et al. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2009 Jun;49(3):290-5.
Around 2% of women who give birth in Australia each year give birth in a birth centre. There is currently no standard definition of a birth centre in Australia.
This study aimed to locate all birth centres nationally, describe their characteristics and procedures, and develop a definition.
Surveys were sent to 23 birth centres. Questions included: types of procedures, equipment and pain relief available, staffing, funding, philosophies, physical characteristics and transfer procedures. Of the birth centres, 19 satisfied the inclusion criteria and 16 completed surveys.
Three constructs of a birth centre were identified. A 'commitment to normality of pregnancy and birth' was most commonly reported as the most important philosophy (44%). The predominant model of care was group practice/caseload midwifery (63%). Thirteen birth centres were located within/attached to a hospital, two were on a hospital campus and one was freestanding. The distance to the nearest labour ward ranged from 2 m to 15 km. Reported intrapartum transfer rates ranged from 7% to 29%. Thirteen centres had a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit onsite, or both. Eight centres undertook artificial rupture of membranes for induction of labour, while two administered oxytocin or prostaglandins. All centres offered nitrous oxide and local anaesthetic. Twelve centres had systemic opioids available and one offered pudendal analgesia. Fetal monitoring was used in all birth centres. Only three centres conducted instrumental deliveries, while 15 performed episiotomies.
Birth centres vary in their philosophies, characteristics and service delivery.
4.) Outcomes of Care in Birth Centers.
Rooks, JP et al. N Engl J Med 1989; 321:1804-1811December 28, 1989
We studied 11,814 women admitted for labor and delivery to 84 free-standing birth centers in the United States and followed their course and that of their infants through delivery or transfer to a hospital and for at least four weeks thereafter. The women were at lower-than-average risk of a poor outcome of pregnancy, according to many but not all of the recognized demographic and behavioral risk factors.
Among the women, 70.7 percent had only minor complications or none; 7.9 percent had serious emergency complications during labor and delivery or soon thereafter, such as thick meconium or severe shoulder dystocia. One woman in six (15.8 percent) was transferred to a hospital; 2.4 percent had emergency transfers. Twenty-nine percent of nulliparous women and only 7 percent of parous women were transferred, but the frequency of emergency transfers was the same. The rate of cesarean section was 4.4 percent. There were no maternal deaths.
The overall intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate was 1.3 per 1000 births. The rates of infant mortality and low Apgar scores were similar to those reported in large studies of low-risk hospital births.
We conclude that birth centers offer a safe and acceptable alternative to hospital confinement for selected pregnant women, particularly those who have previously had children, and that such care leads to relatively few cesarean sections.