ACOG: Fear and Litigation Motivation

It is interesting that on the same day ACOG (via help from NBC) tries to use fear to motivate moms to birth in hospitals

they admit that

fear of litigation motivates them to make decisions, rather than evidence based choices.

Using Fear to Motivate Moms:  NBC Today show and MSNBC showed a segment on Extreme Birth showing a home birth with a sad outcome.  There are a lot of great posts about it.  I don’t have much to add to what these bloggers have said.

My take on the whole thing?  I feel sorry for this family that lost their baby.  It is very sad.  I don’t know all the details about what went on, but regardless it is a horrible loss.   There are babies who die in hospital settings as well.  There are no guarantees with birth or in life.

Parents have the right to gather information and make the best choice for them.   Fear doesn’t need to be a part of this equation.  Intuition can and should be!    So I think that this news piece was biased and unfair.  Thumbs down for NBC.

OBs making choices based on fear:

The Unnecesarean posted about the ACOG survey just released a survey where

More than 63% of ob-gyns report making changes to their practice due to the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation

You need to go and read the Unnecesarean post above for all the details.  But I am sure they will not be surprising.  I don’t know what the answer is to this.  Except for parents to educate themselves on their choices and be aware that their “scare providers” may not be making their choices based on evidence based research, rather they are making choices out of FEAR!

Then I think a perfect post that wraps both of these topics up nicely is at Science and Sensibility:  Home Birth The Rest of the Story.

What I found most enlightening is her section on why moms really are choosing home birth.  It isn’t so they can have a spa like experience.  (who came up with that idea?)  She talks about the 6 healthy birth practices and how less than 2% of moms get 5 of these during a hospital birth.

LESS than 2% of moms are experiencing these things.

1. Let labor begin on its own

2. Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor

3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support

4. Routine interventions not included in this survey result. 

5. Avoid giving birth on the back and follow the body’s urges to push

6. Keep mother and baby together – it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding

There seems to be a problem with the way things are done in the hospital.

As a doula I can attest that it is REALLY difficult to see all of these things happen in a hospital setting.  #5 and #6 seem to be the main hang ups in many of the births I attend.  They just love to get mom in that “special” pushing position.  Then they typically seem to “have to take the baby to make sure he/she is ok.”  Baby may be on mom for 5 minutes, but it is less likely to have baby longer before being separated, unless mom and dad are really forceful!   OK, #1 is another huge problem too.

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8 Comments on “ACOG: Fear and Litigation Motivation

  1. I had a hospital birth with my first daughter and only got 1 and 3–and almost didn’t have 1, as I was 9 days past my due date and an induction was scheduled for the day after the birth. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, so I chose a homebirth with a midwife for my second baby and got all six! And they think we want to birth at home for a “spa” experience. I’ve never even been to a spa. I just wanted to birth my baby in peace!


    Thanks for sharing! Indeed we don’t want the spa, we just want to have safe undisturbed births!

  2. This is so laughable- spa like treatments at home?! A hospital or birthing center is FAR more spa like than my home! I don’t have a whirlpool with aromatherapy oils, as one local hospital touts about on their website.

    What a bunch of malarkey.

  3. Pingback: Looks like the Today Show has gone and done it again « Birthing Beautiful Ideas

  4. I was so disgusted by the lack of “fair and balanced” journalism presented in this Today Show story. I definitely feel badly for the couple who lost their baby, but that one incidence represents only a very small number of infant deaths that happen during home births—in fact, studies have shown that mother and infant death rates are lower for home births than hospital births.

    We just have to keep doing our best to get factual information out there and do it in a positive and supportive way. That doesn’t mean that a home birth is right for everyone (I had both of my children in the hospital), but women who chose to birth at home shouldn’t be vilified as selfish or hedonistic.


    I agree home birth isn’t for everyone, but it should be an option for moms who want it! I had 3 hospital births and NOW I am at the point where I would have a home birth with my next one.

  5. I was dead set on a natural home-birth, but my best friend’s experience convinced me to be at a hospital. Her 6 year-old daughter is extremely disabled b/c of lack of oxygen during a labor that lasted entirely too long while the cord was around her neck. So I went to the hospital. Praise God that I was there.
    I would not have the beautiful little girl I have today if I had not been down the hall from the OR. If I had had a c/s earlier than I did then she would probably be able to walk. I don’t think that means women should be forced into hospitals to give birth, but I do think women need to know the facts. I don’t give a flip about the statistics. My daughter is a person, even if she is the .01% or whatever, she is who she is and wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a c/s and would be healthier if we’d had it an hour earlier. I tell all my friends about this and encourage them to give birth in a hospital and will always do so.


    It is good that you followed your intuition in where to birth your baby. I think that is SO key. If a mom doesn’t feel comfortable birthing at home, then she shouldn’t be at home.

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