Research, the first of its kind, from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University asked questions about the approach of childbirth education classes in Australia. Currently these classes often focus on hospital birth, including medical interventions like pharmacological pain relief, induction of labour and caesarean sections.
To test whether childbirth education programs can help drive down the rate of medical interventions, researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial of 176 women having their first baby across two Sydney hospitals.
Women in the study group were provided with a variety of complementary therapies, such as acupressure, relaxation, massage, yoga and breathing techniques, as tools for their labour and birth. The results were significant. These women subsequently had reduced rates of epidural anaesthetics, caesarean sections and other medical interventions. They also had a shorter second stage of labour and their babies were less likely to need resuscitation.
The study has showed that evidence-based complementary medicine techniques for pain relief can significantly reduce medical intervention rates, and meaningfully reduce the fear around childbirth.
Ongoing research like this requires university funding. If we want to improve health outcomes, it’s important to keep Australia clever.