Only 1% of firstborns arrive after a ‘perfect’ labor and delivery

May 11, 2018

As Mother’s Day approaches, many expectant women can hardly wait for their own sweet bundles of joy—but not necessarily the childbirth process.

Indeed, just about every pregnant woman fervently hopes for a relatively brief and routine labor and delivery— but how often does it happen that way?

While there are no recent U.S. study results, the rate of “practically perfect” first-time births among Irish women is estimated to be less than 1%, according to a study published in the Irish Medical Journal on May 10.

Specifically, after looking at  more than 18,000 deliveries at the National Maternity Hospital over a two-year period, the researchers found that the number of “practically perfect” deliveries in women who hadn’t given birth before was 0.8%.

The authors defined a perfect birth as a delivery after 37 weeks, a spontaneous labor without intervention, an intact perineum, and a positive neonatal outcome.

Among 18,698 maternity patients, there were 8,292 nulliparous women (who hadn’t given birth before) —and 7,616 of these women delivered after 37 weeks.

Out of that number, 4,171 went into spontaneous labor—and  1,031 had no emergency interventions during delivery. However, 57 had an emergency Caesarean section, 86 had a vacuum-assisted delivery, 33 had a forceps-assisted delivery, two had spontaneous breech deliveries,  and five had their babies before they got to the hospital.

That excluded a total of 183 leaving 848 “practically perfect” births.

Of course, every birth is perfect once the baby is out, with 10 fingers and toes, a lusty cry—and a normal Apgar score for reflexes, muscle tone, breathing and heart rate.

Odds are that four babies will be born each minute worldwide this Sunday and we wish their mothers and families the happiest of holidays.

Research contact: grainne@thejournal.ie

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