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Hospital Midwives, Lower C-Section Rates?

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Expectant mothers seeking to lower their risk of a cesarean delivery might want to consider getting a midwife involved, a new study suggests.

In addition, midwives were tied to less need for a surgical incision called an episiotomy during childbirth, the researchers reported.

"More midwife-attended births may correlate with fewer obstetric procedures, which could lower costs without lowering the quality of care," wrote study co-authors Laura Attanasio, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Katy Kozhimannil of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The study findings are based on 126 hospitals in New York state.

About 25 percent of those hospitals had no midwives. About half had midwives, but they attended less than 15 percent of births. At 7 percent of the hospitals, however, midwives attended more than four out of 10 births, according to the study.

In 2014, when the research was conducted, midwives were present at only 9 percent of U.S. births, the researchers noted. In other western countries -- such as Australia, France and the United Kingdom -- midwives attend two-thirds of births.

"This study is contributing to a body of research which shows that good outcomes for women at low risk in childbirth go hand-in-hand with lower use of medical procedures," Attanasio said in a news release from the universities.

The researchers said greater attention is being paid to overuse of cesarean and other procedures that may not result in better outcomes for mothers and babies.

Kozhimannil added, "From a policy perspective, this study should encourage legislators and regulators to consider efforts to safely expand access to midwifery care for low-risk pregnancies."

The findings were published Nov. 16 in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health.

More information

The American Pregnancy Association has more on midwives.

SOURCE: University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of Minnesota School of Public Health, joint news release, Nov. 16, 2017
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