California College of Midwives

Legislative Fact Sheet with Citations
California Citizens for Health Freedom 888 / 557-8092

   "Your Guide to Safe and Effective Care During Labor and Birth",
Recommendations by Maternity Center Association, 1998, NYC, 212 / 777-5000

Giving birth should not be treated as a medical procedure

Pregnancy and childbirth are normal and healthy events for most women. Although it is important to take good care of yourself and get early and regular maternity care, pregnancy is not an illness and giving birth should not be treated as a medial procedure.

Many treatments used in the care of many low-risk woman are not necessary or effective:

Many women are unaware that some of the procedures, drugs, tests and treatments used in the care of many low-risk women are not necessary or effective. Some practices have not been adequately evaluated, and some may do more harm than good. At the same time, some practices that are known to be beneficial to either the woman or baby are not available in many hospitals in the US.

There are significant gaps between the care that current scientific evidence shows to be safe and effective and the care actually provided to many women in the United States during pregnancy and childbirth.

Thinking About the Evidence: The information in this guide is based on a world wide review of research that has measured the effects of specific maternity care practices during the labors of women who have no known medical complication and are anticipating a normal birth. The review was conducted by the World Health Organization, which published the results in a book entitled "Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide". The book groups individual maternity care practices into four categories based on their benefits or potential for harm when applied to low-risk women.

Safe and Useful -- Research show that these practices are safe and useful and should be encouraged:

1. Planning each woman’s care based on a birth plan in which the mother stated her preferences during labor, birth and the period after the baby is born

2. Informing women about the benefits and risks of all potential birth locations (hospital, birth center, and home) and respecting their informed choice about where to give birth

3. Assessing each woman’s risk status through pregnancy, labor and birth

4. Guaranteeing every women the consistent presence of a caregiver trained to provide empathetic support and encouragement through labor and birth

5. Allowing a woman to drink fluids during labor

6. Monitoring the baby’s heartbeat using a stethoscope or a doptone device rather than continuous electronic fetal monitoring

7. Providing non-drug methods of pain relief during labor, such as massage and relaxation techniques

8. Allowing women to get out of bed, walk, and move at will during labor and to choose a comfortable position for giving birth

9. Promoting skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth and unlimited mother baby contact thereafter

10. Helping mothers to begin breastfeeding within one hour after giving birth

SB 1479 ~ California Citizens for Health Freedom 888 / 557-8092