Labor and Delivery: 10 Surprising Things You Need to Know

In an effort to better understand women's birth experiences and develop ways to improve these experiences, the Maternity Center Association created the Listening to Mothers survey. This is the first time that women in the U.S. have been systematically polled at the national level about their maternity experiences. The survey focuses the discussion of maternity care in the U.S. on the people who care about it most: mothers. Find out what birth is like for moms today.

1. Technologically intensive labor is the norm. Though 45 percent of women agreed that "giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary," a majority of women reported having each of the following interventions while giving birth: electronic fetal monitoring (93 percent), intravenous drip (86 percent), epidural analgesia (63 percent), artificially ruptured membranes (55 percent), artificial oxytocin to strengthen contractions (53 percent), bladder catheter (52 percent) and stitching to repair an episiotomy or a tear (52 percent). Learn more about giving birth.

2. Natural childbirth has virtually dropped off the radar screen. While 20 percent of mothers indicated that they used no medications for pain relief, there were virtually no "natural childbirths" among the mothers surveyed. Even mothers having a vaginal birth experienced a wide array of medical interventions including: being attached to an electronic fetal monitor continuously or nearly so throughout labor (93 percent); being connected to an IV line (85 percent); having their membranes artificially ruptured (67percent); being given artificial oxytocin to start or stimulate labor (63 percent); having a gloved hand inserted into their uterus after birth (58 percent); using a catheter to remove urine (41 percent); getting an episiotomy (35 percent); and having pubic hair shaved (5 percent). Less than one percent of mothers gave birth without at least one of these interventions, and almost all of these came from the very small group (also less than one percent) of home births in the sample.

Learn more about natural childbirth.

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