Is the operative delivery rate in low-risk women dependent on the level of birth care? A randomised controlled trial

BJOG. 2011 Oct;118(11):1357-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03043.x. Epub 2011 Jul 12.


Objective: To investigate possible differences in operative delivery rate among low-risk women, randomised to an alongside midwifery-led unit or to standard obstetric units within the same hospital.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Østfold Hospital Trust, Tromsø, Norway.

Population: A total of 1111 women assessed to be at low risk at onset of spontaneous labour.

Methods: Randomisation into one of three birth units: the special unit; the normal unit; or the midwife-led unit.

Main outcome measures: Total operative delivery rate, augmentation, pain relief, postpartum haemorrhage, sphincter injuries and intrapartum transfer, Apgar score <7 at 5 minutes, metabolic acidosis and transfer to neonatal intensive care unit.

Results: There were no significant differences in total operative deliveries between the three units: 16.3% in the midwife-led unit; 18.0% in the normal unit; and 18.8% in the special unit. There were no significant differences in postpartum haemorrhage, sphincter injuries or in neonatal outcomes. There were statistically significant differences in augmentation (midwife-led unit versus normal unit RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.59-0.89; midwife-led unit versus special unit RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.56-0.86), in epidural analgesia (midwife-led unit versus normal unit RR 0.68, 95% CI 0.52-0.90; midwife-led unit versus special unit RR 0.64, 95% CI 0.47-0.86) and in acupuncture (midwife-led unit versus normal unit RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.25-1.69; midwife-led unit versus special unit RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.22-1.73).

Conclusions: The level of birth care does not significantly affect the rate of operative deliveries in low-risk women without any expressed preference for level of birth care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Anal Canal / injuries
  • Analgesia, Epidural / statistics & numerical data
  • Apgar Score
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Midwifery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Norway
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Vacuum Extraction, Obstetrical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult