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It’s science: Women need time to birth—so doctors shouldn’t rush labor + delivery

When writing birth plans, most expectant mothers don’t anticipate they will need interventions during delivery—which includes everything from hormonal induction of labor to the use of forceps to a C-section. Yet current rates for cesarean births in the United States hover around 32%, more than 20% of births are medically induced and approximately 5% of vaginal births occur with “instrumental tools.”


According to a new study, many of these birth interventions are not only unnecessary, but have long-term implications for mothers and babies.

Women progress much slower in labor than we previously thought. For 70 years, clinicians believed the cervix should dilate by 1 cm per hour,” say the authors of a study published in the journal Birth in an analysis of the research for The Conversation. “If the cervix was slower to dilate, intervention was initiated because labor was thought to have slowed.”

Although the authors note there are certainly cases where interventions are warranted, the actual rates of intervention exceed the labor and delivery guidelines from the World Health Organization. In their analysis of nearly 500,000 healthy, low-risk births in New South Wales from 2000 and 2013, as well as follow-ups with the children in the first 28 days and five years later, the researchers found unnecessary intervention may also create unnecessary health consequences.

“Instrumental births” are tied to struggles in the first month

Babies who were born with the use of forceps or a vacuum were at the highest risk for jaundice and feeding problems, which they hypothesize is linked to the babies’ response to the bruising or bleeding often caused by these interventions.

Babies born via C-section need more hospital treatment

Compared with babies born vaginally, those who come into the world by cesarean birth are more likely to be cold and need more treatment at the hospital, which the researchers believe is because skin-to-skin recommendations are not always followed. Babies born by emergency C-section are also higher risk for metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity, by the age of 5.

All birth interventions create higher risks for some health struggles

Compared with babies born by spontaneous vaginal delivery, babies born with some intervention were at higher risk for respiratory infections, metabolic disorders and eczema. Researchers believe this may be because “vaginal birth provides an important opportunity to pass gut bacteria from mother to baby to produce a healthy microbiome and protect us from illness.”

What can we do to lessen the rates of interventions?

For medical providers, the authors of the study say they hope the takeaways will be to give labor more time to progress naturally and to ditch continuous electronic monitoring (CTG) in favor of regular, hand-held monitors for low-risk women. They say, “Continuous monitoring increases intervention rates for low-risk women and healthy babies without improving outcomes for babies.”

Another way to improve outcomes is to create systems that allow mothers to have continuity of care—meaning they see one medical provider through pregnancy, birth and postnatal periods.

For women, preparing to give birth can feel daunting enough, but it’s important to remember that these are our experiences. If you feel strongly about avoiding interventions, make sure your medical providers and birth support team knows your preferences ahead of time so they can advocate for you.

But also remember that while interventions may not be preferable, they represent just one moment in your baby’s life. And while the birth story does matter, the life story matters much more.

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Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.


This article was sponsored by Earth Mama Organics. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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