Practices that Promote Healthy Birth: Avoid Common Interventions

Today, childbirth is viewed as and transpires as more of a medical procedure than a natural bodily function. Women who seek to have a natural birth often look for resources and information on how to achieve a more natural experience instead of one that is over-medicalized.

Truthfully, if you want to avoid all common hospital interventions, the best place to give birth (for low-risk women) is either at home or in a birth center. In my own experience, confronting hospital staff to avoid simple things like an IV line can bring added stress that just isn’t part of an enjoyable birth experience. That being said, birth should take place where you feel most comfortable, and if that is in a hospital, the best thing to do is educate yourself about the choices and risks and related to common medical interventions.


Common Medical Birth Interventions

  • IV for fluids
  • Epidural anesthesia
  • Continous electronic fetal monitoring
  • Pitocin
  • Artificially breaking the bag of water
  • Episiotomy

Most of these interventions are medically unnecessary, but are used in many hospitals today in the United States. An IV, for example, is used to administer fluids and medication, if necessary. However, when women are allowed to eat and drink during labor, an IV for fluids is not necessary. Recent studies show that there is no need to prevent a woman from eating and drinking while she is in labor

Continuous electronic fetal monitoring is also over-used in low-risk women. In recent years, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has shown that in the 40 years that electronic fetal monitoring has been the norm, there have been no improved outcomes in mothers or babies. Of course, like anything, there are some situations when it is necessary, but mostly in high-risk cases. 

Epidurals for those who choose to use them for labor can be the right fit, but they are not risk free. Epidurals can slow labor and pose other risks to mothers and babies. There are other, more natural and effective ways to help relieve the pain of labor

Pitocin can cause contractions, but it can also cause contractions that are too strong and result in fetal distress and bring on a cascade of interventions

Episiotomy has been shown in recent years to be medically unnecessary in the majority of cases. 

Skipping Common Interventions

There are several ways to avoid routine hospital interventions.

  • Hire a birth doula to help be your advocate and employ natural pain relieving strategies
  • Write a birth plan and provide copies to your provider and hospital staff on call during your stay
  • Talk to your provider about your expectations and practices and procedures you are concerned about
  • Take a tour of your hospital
  • Research your chosen hospital’s cesarean and intervention statistics prior to giving birth

These simple steps can help you avoid common medical interventions and increase your chance of having a safe and healthy birth experience.

Avatar of Danielle ElwoodAbout Danielle Elwood
Danielle is a mother of two young boys, Camden and Benjamin, born born via cesarean section under very different circumstances. Since the birth of her first child – a failed induction – Danielle realized the heavy need for childbirth education in her local shoreline community in Connecticut and has dedicated her time towards blogging and writing for local publications on the issues. Read more from Danielle at


  1. mamapoekie says:

    Great article! Putting it in my Sunday Surf

  2. sarah says:

    I totally agree there are too many unnecessary interventions. it is not impossible to have a great birth experience at a hospital though. I had one. I had a natural birth. I had no pain reducing or labor inducing measures. They did not give me any problems when I stated I did not want an IV. I was only allowed ice chips officially but was also told unofficially what they don’t see, they don’t know along with what they felt would be good food/drinks for labor. I was free to move about as I wanted, only had intermittent monitoring, did not have an episiotomy. Technically I was only allowed 2 guests plus a medical (doula or midwife) guest. My family came and went throughout the day as they wanted though and I was told nothing would be said as long as there were no problems. I really did not want an audience during the pushing stage so i limited the visitors myself. I think women need to decide what they want in a birth experience and really stand up for themselves and go for it. maybe I just got lucky and had a good hospital, but I had a wonderful (though not pain free) experience.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lamaze International, Lamaze International. Lamaze International said: What can you do to avoid unncecessary medical interventions? Great suggestions at [...]

  2. [...] | International Cesarean Awareness Network…thybirth_4.pdf Practices that Promote Healthy Birth: Avoid Interventions that aren't Medically Necessary Reply With Quote + Reply to [...]

  3. […] of labor and birth and therefore is easily influenced by these processes. Terribly high rates of unnecessary intervention, c-sections and birth trauma make it difficult for mothers to easily and successfully […]

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