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After a significant journey of really wanting to be informed with as much scientific evidence possible, I had to challenge many of my own assumptions; I had to experience cognitive dissonance and re-shape some of my views. This is what I learned:

• There are over 7 billion people in the world right now—all born within the last hundred years or so. In 1900 there were approximately 1.65 billion people in the world and now we're at over 7 billion1 !?! That's a lot of births. There is a significant amount we can learn from them. And while it might seem as if most of the people who are giving birth today are having their babies at the hospital and are relying on interventions and using an epidural or having a c-section (and just so you know, you're not crazy for believing this—it is true that in the United States within the last few decades more and more people are relying on hospital births and using epidurals and c-sections at a rapidly increasing rate2), but more than not, people around the world TODAY—and most certainly in the past—give birth naturally at home3.

The move from home birth to hospital birth began in the 18th century; even in the US giving birth at home was the norm until the 1950s. It has only been within the last 2 generations that we have shifted from the home to the hospital to give birth. And we have done so quickly; fewer than 1% of births in the United States occur at home today4. That means for approximately 99.998% of human history we have relied on a woman's innate, instinctual, hormonally driven ability to give birth in a familiar place with supportive family members and/or trusted birth partners3.

• With that in mind, our use of intervention has sky-rocketed. Our well-intentioned friends and families in conjunction with big-businesses who have a vested-interest in their use might have us believe that easy access to interventions at a hospital is absolutely the best and safest decision. <Again, let me emphasize I believe wherever a woman feels most comfortable truly is the best place for her to give birth because it will allow for her to feel safe and engage the natural processes of her body in the most efficient way, so this is not about home vs. hospital. But it is hormonal, innate, naturally driven birth vs. unnecessary, sometimes risky interventions>.

Let me share with you my hesitations about interventions. It is NOT their use that challenges me (I do believe that in the right circumstances that interventions are truly life-saving), it is their overuse in the wrong situation (i.e. their use with the 83% of mothers who have had an uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancy) that put mothers and babies who have been otherwise healthy at an increased risk for harm5. In a 2006 survey, around 50% of women were artificially induced; almost 75% had an epidural; and 33% gave birth by c-section6. There are countless evidence-based studies on this topic that indicate over and over again that many technological interventions commonly used in the United States increase the risk to the mother and child rather than decreasing it (click here* to read what I would say is the absolute most informative primary-source on the topic or click here* to see birth related articles that I find interesting and persuasive). There is actually a term for it: it's known as "the perinatal paradox: doing more and accomplishing less"7. The most illustrative example of this, I believe, is The World Health Organization's recommendation that states the optimal national cesarean rates is in the range of 5 to 10 percent of all births and that rates above 15 percent are likely to do more harm than good8. When first measured in 1965, the U.S. c-section rate was 4.5%. In 2009, however, we were at a rate of 32.9%5. Although the majority of childbearing women and newborns in the United States are healthy and at low risk for complications, national surveys reveal that essentially all women who give birth in U.S. hospitals experience high rates of interventions with significant risks of adverse effects. We have created our own self-fulfilling prophecy in the US: the reason that you might believe (and have well intentioned friends and family who also believe) that there are complications that arise during childbirth that require medical intervention is because such complications are more likely to occur because of interventions that are administered in the hospital environment9.

• All of this leads to my last—and most important point—according to World Health Statistics 201010, when compared to other international high and middle-income countries, the United States had by far the greatest overall health expenditure per capita (nearly a trillion dollars a year) despite the fact that many--if not most-- of these countries out preformed the US in measures that matter: maternal and infant mortality, low birth weights, and cesarean rates5.

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