This is a very interesting article with advice for women who want to achieve a vaginal birth outcome, and is essentially a Q&A with Dr. Aaron Caughey on the subject of "delayed pushing" techniques.
But what caught my attention was the poorer outcomes for babies in the research group of women who did wait before finally pushing...
Because while Dr. Caughey, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health and Sciences University and director of its Center for Women’s Health, advocates "letting women stall even after they’re fully dilated, [with] no big rush to push", when asked whether these women's babies were just as healthy, he answered:
"The vast majority of babies are just fine. However, in the delayed arm, in a very small percentage of cases, there was more maternal fever, and it does seem that the babies of women who have maternal fever are at risk for some bad long-term outcomes. The second thing is that a very small percentage of the babies of women who delayed pushing had slightly lower pH or acid levels. When pH is low, you start worrying about injuries to the baby’s brain."
I happen to think that efforts to help women experience a vaginal birth outcome (where this is their preferred choice) are praiseworthy, and that this type of research is certainly very helpful.
What it also provides however, is further evidence that vaginal birth, and the pursuit of vaginal birth at all costs, can introduce an increased level of risk to the unborn child.
And I don't write this in order to criticize vaginal birth or the women who might follow Dr. Caughey's advice (after all, according to his research, the vast majority will have positive experiences and healthy outcomes), but rather to highlight the risks to babies that many women who choose a cesarean are seeking to avoid.