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The Cascade of Interventions: Myth or Reality?

The cascade of interventions is sometimes called a myth. But is it? I believe people so often call it a myth for one simple reason….extremes.

pregnant woman in hospital bed

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If you’ve heard about the cascade of interventions, you’ve probably also heard some people say that it’s a myth – maybe you’re wondering that yourself.

So we’re all on the same page, the “cascade of interventions” is what we call the phenomenon of one medical intervention leading to another…and another…and another. For example, if you get induced, you might also get an epidural. And if you get an epidural, the doctor may end up doing an instrumental delivery.

Let’s get right to the point: the cascade of interventions is not a myth.

Countless women could tell personal stories of their experience with this cascade. Studies show it’s reality, too. Ask most doctors how a typical birth goes under their care and you’ll see it.

So then why do people call it a myth?

There may be many reasons, including misinformation and incomplete or poorly collected data. But most of the time, I think it’s simply an unfortunate result of one thing: we humans love extremes.

Extreme Sells

Let me explain what I mean with an example from journalism.

Say that an online news magazine is deciding between two titles for a new article. They could use the headline “High School Swimmer Disqualified Because of Weight.” That might get a few clicks.

But if they rephrase it a bit and use “Alaska’s Swimsuit Scandal Unfairly Polices Young Girls’ Bodies,” it’s going to get far more attention.

What’s the difference? The first headline wasn’t untrue. But the second one makes you feel something. It presents a dramatic opinion that draws people in. It makes you curious – and maybe angry.

It plays on extremes.

That’s how it is in a world of endless products and advertising. Even inherent in each of us, I think, is a tendency to want to be absolute – black or white, not gray; left or right, not somewhere in the middle.

Always vs. Sometimes

So, without getting too philosophical, what I mean is this: if any of us states that inductions ALWAYS lead to a c-section, that epidurals ALWAYS mean more medical intervention, or that a hospital birth ALWAYS ends up medicated and rife with problems, we’re wrong.

That is a “myth.”

The truth is that SOMETIMES inductions lead to a c-section, SOMETIMES epidurals lead to more intervention, and SOMETIMES a hospital birth spirals downward and doesn’t go like a woman had hoped.

When we try to make everything black and white, we miss out on important truths that live somewhere in the middle.

The reason I want you to know about the cascade of interventions is so that you can choose a hospital birth or not based on real, true information about what COULD happen and what often DOES happen.

Some women might experience 1 or 2 or 3 or all of these interventions and leave the hospital feeling great, with no harm done. But too many women will experience these interventions and have a birth and postpartum experience that is less than ideal, to put it gently.

That is why I want you to know about the cascade of interventions.

Learn all about it in The Cascade of Interventions [Explained].

Until next time,

Allison

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