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Journal: BMC pregnancy and childbirth


Childbirth fear is linked with lower labor pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment. Empirically validated childbirth preparation options are lacking for pregnant women facing this problem. Mindfulness approaches, now widely disseminated, can alleviate symptoms of both chronic and acute pain and improve psychological adjustment, suggesting potential benefit when applied to childbirth education.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Uterus, Randomized controlled trial, Obstetrics, Pain, Pelvic girdle pain, Doula


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study is to compare the odds of postpartum haemorrhage among women who opt for home birth against the odds of postpartum haemorrhage for those who plan a hospital birth. It is an observational study involving secondary analysis of maternity records, using binary logistic regression modelling. The data relate to pregnancies that received maternity care from one of fifteen hospitals in the former North West Thames Regional Health Authority Area in England, and which resulted in a live or stillbirth in the years 1988–2000 inclusive, excluding ‘high-risk’ pregnancies, unplanned home births, pre-term births, elective Caesareans and medical inductions. RESULTS: Even after adjustment for known confounders such as parity, the odds of postpartum haemorrhage (>=1000ml of blood lost) are significantly higher if a hospital birth is intended than if a home birth is intended (odds ratio 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 3.8). The ‘home birth’ group included women who were transferred to hospital during labour or shortly after birth. CONCLUSIONS: Women and their partners should be advised that the risk of PPH is higher among births planned to take place in hospital compared to births planned to take place at home, but that further research is needed to understand (a) whether the same pattern applies to the more life-threatening categories of PPH, and (b) why hospital birth is associated with increased odds of PPH. If it is due to the way in which labour is managed in hospital, changes should be made to practices which compromise the safety of labouring women.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logit, Logistic regression, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Obstetrics, Midwifery, Home birth


BACKGROUND: Physical and psychological problems after childbirth are common, and may have a significant negative and long-term impact on women’s wellbeing and daily functioning. The method of birth may be a particularly important factor influencing women’s health and wellbeing following birth, however, population-wide evidence is limited. This study uses data from 5,332 women who responded to a national survey of women’s experiences of maternity care in England. We examined women’s postnatal wellbeing in the first three months after birth, and whether these varied by mode of birth. METHODS: This is a secondary analysis of survey data using a random sample of women selected from birth registration. We used multinomial logistic regression models to examine the association between women’s self-reported psychological symptoms, health problems and mode of birth. RESULTS: Women who had forceps-assisted vaginal births and unplanned caesarean section births reported the poorest health and wellbeing, while those of women who had unassisted vaginal births and planned caesarean section births were less affected by the birth process. Most women’s physical and emotional health appeared to improve with time, however, those who had a forceps-assisted vaginal birth were more likely to report ongoing posttraumatic-type symptoms several months after the birth. CONCLUSIONS: Mode of birth was associated with differences in outcomes at three months. By comparison to women who had unassisted vaginal births, the risk of reduced postnatal health and wellbeing was higher amongst the women who had forceps-assisted vaginal births but not amongst women who had ventouse-assisted vaginal births. This would suggest that it is important to differentiate the different types of instrumental birth in outcome studies. Of concern was the higher rate of posttraumatic-type symptoms among women who had forceps-assisted vaginal births relative to the other modes of birth. Women who have forceps-assisted births should be monitored carefully by health professionals in the postnatal period, and in the months after childbirth, when they could be offered the opportunity to discuss their labour and birth.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Childbirth, Obstetrics, Multinomial logit, Vagina, Caesarean section, Unassisted childbirth


BACKGROUND: Estimation of maternal mortality is difficult in developing countries without complete vital registration. The indirect sisterhood method represents an alternative in places where there is high fertility and mortality rates. The objective of the current study was to estimate maternal mortality indices using the sisterhood method in a rural district in southwest Ethiopia. METHOD: We interviewed 8,870 adults, 15–49 years age, in 15 randomly selected rural villages of Bonke in Gamo Gofa. By constructing a retrospective cohort of women of reproductive age, we obtained sister units of risk exposure to maternal mortality, and calculated the lifetime risk of maternal mortality. Based on the total fertility for the rural Ethiopian population, the maternal mortality ratio was approximated. RESULTS: We analyzed 8503 of 8870 (96%) respondents (5262 [62%] men and 3241 ([38%] women). The 8503 respondents reported 22,473 sisters (average = 2.6 sisters for each respondent) who survived to reproductive age. Of the 2552 (11.4%) sisters who had died, 32% (819/2552) occurred during pregnancy and childbirth. This provided a lifetime risk of 10.2% from pregnancy and childbirth with a corresponding maternal mortality ratio of 1667 (95% confidence interval, 1564–1769) per 100,000 live births. The time period for this estimate was in 1998. Separate analysis for male and female respondents provided similar estimates. CONCLUSION: The impoverished rural area of Gamo Gofa had very high maternal mortality in 1998. This highlights the need for strengthening emergency obstetric care for the Bonke population and similar rural populations in Ethiopia.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Death, Demography, Population, Obstetrics, Abortion, Stillbirth


Applying mobile phones in healthcare is increasingly prioritized to strengthen healthcare systems. Antenatal care has the potential to reduce maternal morbidity and improve newborns' survival but this benefit may not be realized in sub-Saharan Africa where the attendance and quality of care is declining. We evaluated the association between a mobile phone intervention and antenatal care in a resource-limited setting. We aimed to assess antenatal care in a comprehensive way taking into consideration utilisation of antenatal care as well as content and timing of interventions during pregnancy.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Africa, Mobile phone, Rotary dial, Push-button telephone


BACKGROUND: The use of mother’s own breast milk during initial hospitalization has a positive impact not only in reducing potential serious neonatal morbidities but also contribute to improvements in neurodevelopmental outcomes. Mothers of very preterm infants struggle to maintain a supply of breast milk during their infants' prolonged hospitalization. Galactogogues are medications that induce lactation by exerting its effects through oxytocin or prolactin enhancement. Domperidone is a potent dopamine D2 receptor antagonist which stimulates the release of prolactin. Small trials have established its ability in enhancing breast milk production. EMPOWER was designed to determine the safety and efficacy of domperidone in mothers experiencing an inadequate milk supply.Methods/designEMPOWER is a multicenter, double masked, randomized controlled phase-II trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of domperidone in those mothers identified as having difficulty in breast milk production. Eligible mothers will be randomized to one of two allocated groups: Group A: domperidone 10 mg orally three times daily for 28 days; and Group B: identical placebo 10 mg orally three times daily for 14 days followed by domperidone 10 mg orally three times daily for 14 days. The primary outcome will be determined at the completion of the first 2-week period; the second 2-week period will facilitate answering the secondary questions regarding timing and duration of treatment. To detect an estimated 30% change between the two groups (from 40% to 28%, corresponding to an odds ratio of 0.6), a total sample size of 488 mothers would be required at 80% power and alpha = 0.05. To account for a 15% dropout, this number is increased to 560 (280 per group). The duration of the trial is expected to be 36–40 months. DISCUSSION: The use of a galactogogue often becomes the measure of choice for mothers in the presence of insufficient breast milk production, particularly when the other techniques are unsuccessful. EMPOWER is designed to provide valuable information in guiding the practices for this high-risk group of infants and mothers. The results of this trial will also inform both mothers and clinicians about the choices available to increase and maintain sufficient breast milk.Trial registrationClinical Identifier: NCT01512225.

Concepts: Infant, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Dopamine receptor, Breast, Breast milk, Dopamine receptor D2


BACKGROUND: Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia is one of the most common causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in low and middle income countries. Magnesium sulfate is the drug of choice for prevention of seizures as part of comprehensive management of the disease. Despite the compelling evidence for the effectiveness of magnesium sulfate, concern has been expressed about its safety and potential for toxicity, particularly among providers in low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of this review was to determine whether the literature published in these global settings supports the concerns about the safety of use of magnesium sulfate. METHODS: An integrative review of the literature was conducted to document the known incidences of severe adverse reactions to magnesium sulphate, and specific outcomes of interest related to its use. All types of prospective clinical studies were included if magnesium sulfate was used to manage pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, the study was conducted in a low- or middle-income country, and the study included the recording of the incidence of any adverse side effect resulting from magnesium sulfate use. RESULTS: A total of 24 studies that compared a magnesium sulfate regimen against other drug regimens and examined side effects among 34 subject groups were included. The overall rate of absent patellar reflex among all 9556 aggregated women was 1.6%, with a range of 0-57%. The overall rate of respiratory depression in 25 subject groups in which this outcome was reported was 1.3%, with a range of 0–8.2%. Delay in repeat administration of magnesium sulfate occurred in 3.6% of cases, with a range of 0-65%. Calcium gluconate was administered at an overall rate of less than 0.2%. There was only one maternal death that was attributed by the study authors to the use of magnesium sulfate among the 9556 women in the 24 studies. CONCLUSION: Concerns about safety and toxicity from the use of magnesium sulfate should be mitigated by findings from this integrative review, which indicates a low incidence of the most severe side effects, documented in studies that used a wide variety of standard and modified drug regimens. Adverse effects of concern to providers occur infrequently, and when they occurred, a delay of repeat administration was generally sufficient to mitigate the effect. Early screening and diagnosis of the disease, appropriate treatment with proven drugs, and reasonable vigilance for women under treatment should be adopted as global policy and practice.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Effectiveness, Magnesium sulfate, Sulfur, Morphine, Adverse effect, Salt, Iatrogenesis


BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to evaluate the mediating role of maternal early pregnancy plasma levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in the association of interpregnancy interval (IPI) with birth weight and smallness for gestational age (SGA) at birth. METHODS: We analysed a subsample of the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) cohort, comprising 1,659 parous pregnant women recruited between January 2003 and March 2004. We used linear and logistic regression to evaluate the associations between fatty acid status, interpregnancy interval and pregnancy outcome. RESULTS: Low plasma phospholipids concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and high concentrations of arachidonic acid (AA) during early pregnancy were associated with reduced birth weight and/or an increased risk of SGA. Short IPIs (< 6 months, with 18--23 months as a reference) were associated with a mean decrease of 207.6 g (SE: +/- 73.1) in birth weight (p = 0.005) and a twofold increased risk of SGA (OR: 2.05; CI: 0.93--4.51; p = 0.074). Adjustment for maternal fatty acid concentrations did not affect these results to any meaningful extent. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the observed association of maternal early pregnancy LCPUFA status with birth weight and SGA, our study provides no evidence for the existence of an important role of maternal EPA, DHA, DGLA or AA in the association of short interpregnancy intervals with birth weight and SGA.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Omega-6 fatty acid, Linoleic acid, Arachidonic acid, Polyunsaturated fatty acid


BACKGROUND: Current recommendations do not support the use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for low risk women during labour, yet EFM remains widespread in clinical practice. Consideration of the views, perspectives and experiences of individuals directly concerned with EFM application may be beneficial for identifying barriers to and facilitators for implementing evidence-based maternity care. The aim of this paper is to offer insight and understanding, through systematic review and thematic analysis, of research into professionals' views on fetal heart rate monitoring during labour. METHODS: Any study whose aim was to explore professional views of fetal monitoring during labour was considered eligible for inclusion. The electronic databases of MEDLINE (1966–2010), CINAHL (1980–2010), EMBASE (1974–2010) and Maternity and Infant Care: MIDIRS (1971–2010) were searched in January 2010 and an updated search was performed in March 2012. Quality appraisal of each included study was performed. Data extraction tables were developed to collect data. Data synthesis was by thematic analysis. RESULTS: Eleven studies, including 1,194 participants, were identified and included in this review. Four themes emerged from the data: 1) reassurance, 2) technology, 3) communication/education and 4) midwife by proxy. CONCLUSION: This systematic review and thematic analysis offers insight into some of the views of professionals on fetal monitoring during labour. It provides evidence for the continuing use of EFM when caring for low-risk women, contrary to current research evidence. Further research to ascertain how some of these views might be addressed to ensure the provision of evidence-based care for women and their babies is recommended.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Obstetrics, Midwifery, Fetal distress


BACKGROUND: British women are increasingly delaying childbirth. The proportion giving birth over the age of 35 rose from 12% in 1996 to 20% in 2006. Women over this age are at a higher risk of perinatal death, and antepartum stillbirth accounts for 61% of all such deaths. Women over 40 years old have a similar stillbirth risk at 39 weeks as women who are between 25 and 29 years old have at 41 weeks.Many obstetricians respond to this by suggesting labour induction at term to forestall some of the risk. In a national survey of obstetricians 37% already induce women aged 40–44 years. A substantial minority of parents support such a policy, but others do not on the grounds that it might increase the risk of Caesarean section. However trials of induction in other high-risk scenarios have not shown any increase in Caesarean sections, rather the reverse. If induction for women over 35 did not increase Caesareans, or even reduced them, it would plausibly improve perinatal outcome and be an acceptable intervention. We therefore plan to perform a trial to test the effect of such an induction policy on Caesarean section rates.This trial is funded by the NHS Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme. DESIGN: The 35/39 trial is a multi-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial. It is being run in twenty UK centres and we aim to recruit 630 nulliparous women (315 per group) aged over 35 years of age, over two years. Women will be randomly allocated to one of two groups:Induction of labour between 390/7 and 396/7 weeks gestation.Expectant management i.e. awaiting spontaneous onset of labour unless a situation develops necessitating either induction of labour or Caesarean Section.The primary purpose of this trial is to establish what effect a policy of induction of labour at 39 weeks for nulliparous women of advanced maternal age has on the rate of Caesarean section deliveries. The secondary aim is to act as a pilot study for a trial to answer the question, does induction of labour in this group of women improve perinatal outcomes? Randomisation will occur at 360/7 – 396/7 weeks gestation via a computerised randomisation programme at the Clinical Trials Unit, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. There will be no blinding to treatment allocation. DISCUSSION: The 35/39 trial is powered to detect an effect of induction of labour on the risk of caesarean section, it is underpowered to determine whether it improves perinatal outcome. The current study will also act as a pilot for a larger study to address this question.Trial registration: ISRCTN11517275.

Concepts: Childbirth, Randomized controlled trial, Obstetrics, Oxytocin, Caesarean section, Breech birth, Labor induction, Pre-eclampsia