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The Oxytocin Clock

Getting Rid of Hospital Bed Better for Birth

Removing the hospital bed from rooms where women give birth reduced the use of artificial oxytocin by 28 percent in a University of Toronto study.

Just like Chekhov's gun on the wall, it seems if there's a hospital bed pretty much filling the room, the laboring woman is much more likely to stay in it -- and her doctors and nurses are also likely to focus their efforts there, according to the article in Eureka Alert.

In the study led by Ellen Hodnett and published in Birth, researchers replaced the hospital bed with a standard double bed with large, comfortable cushions. They dimmed the lights and played soothing ambient sounds, such as ocean waves.

According to the article,

"The intent was to allow the women the ability to move about freely during their labour, to permit close contact with their support people, and to promote feelings of calm and confidence," says Hodnett.

The room's furnishings encouraged women to get comfortable, instead of just lying on their backs -- considered by many to be the absolute worst position in which to give birth. In the alternative rooms, more than 65 percent of women who used them said they spent less than half the labor period in the bed, compared to 13 percent of women in standard rooms.