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Going into labour for the first time can come with some unrealistic expectations. While yes, most of us would prefer a delivery as free from medical difficulties as possible, this is unfortunately not the reality for many mums.


A new study published in the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ) seeks to dispel preconceived notions some mums harbour about having a 'practically perfect' birth.


"With increasing influence of social media, there is the potential for women to feel pressure to have the 'perfect' birth," the authors noted.


The reality, though, is that the two-year study, which surveyed over 7,600 births at the National Maternity Hospital, found that only 0.8 percent of women had a 'perfect' labour.



Of the 7,616 births analysed, which all occurred after 37 weeks of gestation 4,171 of the mums went into spontaneous labour, while 2,753 had to be induced. The other 692 women had c-section as their primary procedure.


2,111 of the women in the study had an artificial rupture of membranes in labour (their water was broken for them). As well, 857 of the mums received oxytocin.


Excluding these, there were 1203 women remaining. However, 172 had a fetal blood sample taken, so that left 1,031 who had spontaneous labour without any of the previously mentioned interventions.


Of the 1,031 women, 57 had an emergency c-section, 86 had a ventouse delivery, 33 had a forceps delivery, five were born before arrival at the hospital, and two were spontaneous breech deliveries.



Now with those 183 births excluded, there were 848 'practically perfect' births left. The authors then eliminated any births that involved tears to the perineum or episiotomies, which then left just 68 women.


Two of these 68 women had suboptimal Apgar scores (a measurement of babies' health just after birth), which then meant that 66 women, or just 0.8 percent of mums, had perfect births at the National Maternity Hospital in 2014 and 2015.


The authors called these findings 'astonishing', and said that they hope to compare these numbers to those from hospitals within the Republic and on an international scale.


However, they say, 'while there is a poor chance of a “practically perfect birth”, neonatal outcomes remain positive'.


Are you surprised by any of these numbers? How do you feel your expectations measured up to the reality of childbirth?



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