My internet sources are all a-twitter today with the news that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued a new statement which says, in essence, that all the ultrasound that they have been doppling into the brains of unborn babies has not been done in any kind of scientific way and has not done anything to improve health but, rather, has unnecessarily driven up the cesarean rate to all time highs.
The science has been there for a long time. In 1999, I wrote an article for Midwifery Today Magazine called “Pelvises I Have Known and Loved”. Within the article is this information:
In a similar vein, I find it interesting that in 1999, doctors now advocate discontinuing the use of the electronic fetal monitor. This is something natural birth advocates have campaigned hard for and have not been able to accomplish in the past twenty years. The natural-types were concerned about possible harm to the baby from the Doppler ultrasound radiation as well as discomfort for the mother from the two tight belts around her belly. Now in l999, the doctors have joined the campaign to rid maternity wards of these expensive pieces of technology. Why, you ask. Because it has just dawned on the doctors that the very strip of paper recording fetal heart tones that they thought proved how careful and conscientious they were, and which they thought was their protection, has actually been their worst enemy in a court of law. A good lawyer can take any piece of “evidence” and find an expert to interpret it to his own ends. After a baby dies or is damaged, the hindsight people come in and go over these strips, and the doctors are left with huge legal settlements to make. What the literature indicates now is that when a nurse with a stethoscope listens to the “real” heartbeat through a fetoscope (not the bounced back and recorded beat shown on a monitor read-out) the cesarean rate goes down by 50 percent with no adverse effects on fetal mortality rates.
Of course, I am in favour of the abolition of electronic fetal monitoring but it would be far more uplifting if this was being done for some sort of health improvement and not just more ways to cover butt in court. > end of exerpt
Now, it has been ten more years. Parents usually don’t realize that the electronic fetal monitor is doppler ultrasound. That doppler ultrasound is 30 times more non-ionizing radiation going into the baby than imaging ultrasound. Both types of ultrasound cause cellular changes in the baby.
Continuous electronic fetal monitoring ties a mother to the bed and prevents her from moving about freely. It is one factor in the “cascade of interventions” that leads to a cesarean surgery. Once the membranes release (waters break), hospital workers often press for continuous internal fetal monitoring. This is an even more evil crime to inflict on an unborn baby. An electrode is screwed into the crown of the baby’s head in order to get direct access to the heartbeat. Breaking the skin to screw in the monitor makes a wide open path for bacteria and viruses to invade the baby. Any baby outside of the womb would scream if you put one of these devices into his/her head. Often the baby goes into distress as soon as the electrode is placed—another instance of “you create what you fear” that seems rampant in obstetrics. The parents are not shown what will screw into their baby’s scalp and the “informed consent” usually is the nurse saying “The doctor wants me to put a little clip on your baby’s head”. The coiled pin at the end of this device is what is actually screwed into the baby’s scalp by turning it several times:
So, now that ACOG has seen the light, can we expect that hospitals will throw out the electronic fetal monitors and get fetoscopes? We shall see. I’ll keep recommending homebirth to parents who want to avoid the danger of cesarean section, infection and non-ionizing radiation.