Background: A challenge of obstetric care is to optimize maternal and infant health outcomes and the mother’s experience of childbirth with the least possible intervention in the normal process. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of modified birth center care on obstetric procedures during delivery and on maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Methods: In a cohort study 2,555 women who signed in for birth center care during pregnancy were compared with all 9,382 low-risk women who gave birth in the standard delivery ward in the same hospital from March 2004 to July 2008. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated with 95% confidence interval (CI) and adjusted for maternal background characteristics, elective cesarean section, and gestational age.
Results: The modified birth center group included fewer emergency cesarean sections (primiparas: OR: 0.69, 95% CI: 0.58–0.83; multiparas: OR: 0.34, 95% CI: 0.23–0.51), and in multiparas the vacuum extraction rate was reduced (OR: 0.42, 95% CI: 0.26–0.67). In addition, epidural analgesia was used less frequently (primiparas: OR: 0.47, 95% CI: 0.41–0.53; multiparas: OR: 0.25, 95% CI: 0.20–0.32). Fetal distress was less frequently diagnosed in the modified birth center group (primiparas: OR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.59–0.87; multiparas: OR: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.29–0.69), but no statistically significant differences were found in neonatal hypoxia, low Apgar score less than 7 at 5 minutes, or proportion of perinatal deaths (OR: 0.40, 95% CI: 0.14–1.13). Anal sphincter tears were reduced (primiparas: OR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.55–0.98; multiparas: OR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.20–0.83).
Conclusion: Midwife-led comprehensive care with the same medical guidelines as in standard care reduced medical interventions without jeopardizing maternal and infant health. (BIRTH 38:2 June 2011)