Many maternity care interventions have unintended effects during labor and birth. Often these effects are new problems that are "solved" with further intervention, which may in turn create even more problems. This chain of events has been called the "cascade of intervention."
This chain of events can change the course of a woman's labor in important ways, yet women and their partners are often unaware that many routine interventions can lead to a cascade of unplanned experiences and unwanted side effects.
The maternity practices that can lead to a cascade of intervention include:
- using various medications to induce labor
- artificially breaking the membranes surrounding the baby and releasing amniotic fluid before or during labor
- using synthetic oxytocin to hasten labor
- giving medications for pain relief
- using back-lying positions for labor or for birth.