Objective: This study compared the effects of early admission in labor and perinatal care provider on delivery method. Higher spontaneous vaginal delivery rates for certified nurse midwives as compared with physicians have been reported in observational studies and randomized clinical trials. Certified nurse midwives, with their more expectant approach to labor management, would be expected to admit women later in labor than obstetricians.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of 2,196 low-risk pregnancies, with singleton, vertex infants admitted in spontaneous labor. Independent and joint effects of perinatal care provider and cervical dilation at admission on delivery method were evaluated. Confounding was addressed using restriction and multiple regression.
Results: Fewer (23.4%) women in collaborative care were admitted in early labor (< 4 cm cervical dilation) than women managed by obstetricians (95% CI = -27.6 to -19.2). Obstetrician care had 9% to 30% fewer spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Women admitted early in labor also had 6% to 34% fewer spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Evaluation of joint effects suggested that interaction between obstetrician provider and earlier admission increased the risk of operative delivery.
Conclusion: Later admission in labor (at 4 cm or greater cervical dilation) and management of perinatal care by certified nurse midwives in collaboration with obstetricians increased the rate of spontaneous vaginal delivery in low-risk women.