Kate Middleton made headlines a few weeks ago for delivering the heir to the throne of England, but the little guy's title didn't impress me nearly as much as his entrance into this world.
Despite being past her due date, the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly entered into labor naturally and continued through labor for more than 11 hours without any interventions to hurry things along. A woman who conceivably could have had anything she wanted at the snap of her fingers decided to let labor run its course.
It speaks volumes about our expectations around childbirth in this country that U.S. media outlets seemed to be biting their nails to the quick at the mere thought of having to wait for the baby.
Wait? For a baby? Who does that?
Well, outside the U.S., most people do. Even royal people. Unfortunately, here at home we are so averse to waiting for anything that we frequently consider induction of labor as soon as a patient presents with a case of TOBP (tired of being pregnant). Nearly a quarter of all births in this country are electively induced.
We, as a society, have done an excellent job of making it seem like outcomes are identical for natural and induced labor. (Plus, with an induction you can plan ahead, get your nails done and be photo-ready for your newborn.)
That's just not the case. By intervening, health risks to the mother and the baby may be increased, hospital stays are lengthened and costs for the delivery go up.
We've done a pretty good job of limiting induced labor to 39 weeks of pregnancy. By waiting until the penultimate week, we have reduced some of the complications of prematurity, such as lung development, jaundice and blood-sugar control. But we haven't done quite as well in making sure the cervix is ready.
If you don't give consideration to the condition of the cervix, your chances of a C-section with induced labor go up. In fact, that's exactly what happens in too many cases — a first-time mother undergoing an elective induction with an unfavorable cervix has a 50% chance of ultimately requiring a C-section. That's a lot.
Not only did Kate wait, she displayed a trait even less common in this country than patience: discretion. There were no hour-by-hour Instagram shots of Kate in labor, no tweets, no Facebook status updates reading, "Just crowned, already got more hair than dad."
For all the royal couple's celebrity, we know less about their childbirth experience than we do about our neighbor's. We even had to wait a few days to learn Prince George's name.
What also impressed me was how short Kate's hospital stay was. Less than 24 hours after giving birth, the royal parents packed up for Kate's return home. Sure, they will probably have access to more help than the typical Newport Beach parent, but there is something so beautiful and right about a limited hospital stay.
For one thing, it allows you to bond with your baby in your own environment. In your own home, you can best introduce baby to his siblings and extended family. You can acclimate to your new bundle of joy. And, while you might not get much sleep, the sleep you do get won't be interrupted by a nurse coming in to take your blood pressure.
We may have declared our independence from England centuries ago, but there is one royal dictate I think we should follow: Have patience. The ultimate goal is for a healthy mom and healthy baby.
So, long live Prince George — and his intervention-free delivery!
DR. ALLYSON BROOKS is the executive medical director of the Women's Health Institute at Hoag Hospital. She lives in Newport Beach.
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