The Use of Complementary Medicine in the Perinatal Period: A Quality Improvement Study in a Birth Center
Abstract Background: The excessive medicalization negatively impacts the childbirth experience. In order to empower women and reduce medicalization, complementary medicine has been implemented in midwife-led units. Aim: To evaluate the quality of obstetric care, the compliance to complementary medicine and the impact of its use on pain relief, augmentation of labor and delivery outcomes. Methods: Prospective quality improvement study where an ad-hoc questionnaire was administered to singleton at term uncomplicated pregnant women admitted to a mid-wife-led unit to evaluate patient’s satisfaction after the use of complementary techniques such as acupressure, moxibustion, acupuncture and aromatherapy. Medical records were used to evaluate perinatal outcomes. Results: One-hundred women completed the questionnaire after delivery. Three women underwent to a cesarean section, 18 had an operative vaginal delivery while 79 had a vaginal uncomplicated delivery. Acupressure and aromatherapy resulted the techniques more used (74%). Complementary therapies were mostly used to induce labor (61%). The quality of the assistance resulted excellent for 79 women. The compliance to the therapies was high, indeed the majority of women self-practiced the techniques at home or during labor. Conclusion: This study highlights the feasibility of a complementary medicine program in a midwifery-led units, emphasizing the compliance of patients to the proposed practices. This confirms the paradigm of the Birth Center, which focuses on the empowerment and promotion of the physiology of the childbirth.