This cross-sectional study of 831 low-risk pregnancies compared the management of labor and delivery in a birthing center, a hospital that had previously won the "Galba de Araújo" Award (for excellence in obstetric and neonatal care), and a standard-protocol maternity facility. The rates for use of ocytocin during labor were 27.9%, 59.5%, and 40.1%, while amniotomy was performed in 67.6%, 73.6%, and 82.2% of the women, respectively. Episiotomy rates were lower in the first two facilities, which have adopted patient-centered obstetric practices (7.2% at the birthing center and 14.8% at the award-winning hospital) as compared to 54.9% at the standard maternity facility. The liberal offer of epidural anesthesia at the awarding-winning hospital resulted in a higher anesthesia rate (54.4%) as compared to the standard facility (7.7%). Forceps delivery and neonatal admission rates were higher in the standard hospital, but there were no differences in mean Apgar or cesarean rates. The findings suggest resistance to selective use of interventions in all three models of obstetric care, although favoring the birthing center as a strategy for controlling interventions during labor and childbirth in low-risk pregnancies, with no resulting harm to the mothers or newborns.
Humanizing Delivery; Obstetric Labor; Maternal and Child Health; Health Services Research