Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities
A Guide to the Medical Literature
Anyone working to improve the childbearing experience and help women avoid unnecessary intervention has encountered numerous "obstetric myths" or "old doctors' tales." And while the evidence in the medical literature may be solidly, often unequivocably, against whatever "the doctor said," without access to that evidence, the pregnant woman is quite reasonably going to follow her doctor's recommendations.
This book is an attempt to make the medical literature on a variety of key obstetric issues accessible to people who lack the time, expertise, access, or proximity to a medical library to research concerns on their own. Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities is a compact reference, scholarly yet understandable to people without medical training, and organized so that readers can easily find the information they want.
Henci Goer specializes in birth issues.
Henci Goer, award-winning medical writer and internationally known
speaker, is the author of The
Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Her previous book,
Obstetric Myths Versus Research
Realities is a highly-acclaimed resource for childbirth
professionals, and she is an acknowledged expert on evidence-based
maternity care. Goer has written consumer education pamphlets and
numerous articles for magazines as diverse as Reader's
Digest and the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal
Nursing. Currently, she appears on ParentsPlace.com as the
For over twenty years, Goer has been a Lamaze-certified childbirth
educator and labor support professional (doula).
What Obstetricians THINK They Know
Can Hurt You
You would assume that the typical obstetrician practices good, safe, care. You would be wrong. To read the obstetric literature is to fall into an Alice-In-Wonderland world where doctors cause many of the problems they say they are trying to prevent and where much of what they hold up as truth doesn't hold water. Despite what obstetricians and their patients believe, obstetrics is riddled with fallacies, fictions, and myths, and their own research proves it.
Drawing on her extensive review of the medical literature, Henci Goer, childbirth educator and award winning medical writer, will explain why pregnant women shouldn't believe everything their obstetrician tells them.
To cite a few of many examples:
- Myth: "I only do cesareans when they are necessary."
- Fact: Nearly one in four American women gives birth by cesarean section and one-half to two-thirds of these major abdominal operations were not needed.
- Myth: "A nice, clean cut is better than a jagged tear."
- Fact: Cutting an episiotomy to enlarge the vagina for birth causes deep tears, not prevents them.
- Myth: "Epidurals are safe for mother and baby."
- Fact: An epidural increases the odds of cesarean for lack of progress somewhere between 2- and 8-fold, especially in first-time moms and causes fetal distress in about 10% of babies.
- Myth: "Midwives aren't as good as doctors, and home birth is so dangerous, it should be labeled child abuse."
- Fact: Studies consistently show that midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth are safer for most mothers and babies.
Why the gap between the medical research and typical
practice? Why do educated, normally assertive women meekly accept--even
embrace--interventive management manifestly harmful to them and their babies?
Citing the work of anthropologists and others, Ms. Goer offers a provocative
answer to those questions too