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November 2021

A national survey of herbal preparation use by nurse-midwives for labor stimulation - Review of the literature and recommendations for practice

Author(s): Gibson, M. H., ORear, J., Harman, P.

Journal/Book: J Nurse Midwifery. 1999; 44: 655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010, USA. Elsevier Science Inc. 205-216.

Abstract: To document the use of herbal preparations for cervical ripening, induction, and augmentation of labor by certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and nurse-midwifery education programs, a national survey of 500 members of the American College of Nurse-Midwives was conducted. Forty eight nurse-midwifery education programs were also surveyed to determine whether they were formally or informally educating students in the use of herbal preparations for cervical ripening, induction, or augmentation of labor. The results of this study, a review of the literature, professional issues, and recommendations for clinical practice are presented in this article. Of 500 questionnaires mailed to ACNM members, 90 were returned from CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor and 82 were returned from CNMs who did not use herbal preparations to stimulate labor. Three questionnaires were excluded due to incomplete data or blank questionnaires. No significant differences were noted in relations to geographical region, midwifery education, or highest level of education between the CNM respondents who did and those who did not use alternative methods to stimulate labor. Of the CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor, 64% used blue cohosh, 45% used black cohosh, 63% used red raspberry leaf, 93% used castor oil, and 60% used evening primrose oil. CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor were younger (43 versus 45 years, P < .01) and more likely to deliver at home or in an in-hospital or out-of-hospital birthing center (P < .0006), than CNMs who never used herbal preparations to stimulate labor. The most cited reason for using herbal preparations to stimulate labor was that they are ''natural,'' whereas the most common reason for not using herbal preparations was the lack of research or experience with the safety of these substances. Sixty-nine percent of CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor learned about using them from other CNMs, 4% from formal research publications, and none from their formal education programs. Although 78% of the CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor directly prescribed them and 70% indirectly suggested them to clients, only 22% had included them within their written practice protocols. Seventy-five percent of the CNMs who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor used them first or instead of pitocin. Twenty-one percent reported complications including precipitous labor, tetanic uterine contractions, nausea. And vomiting. Sixty-four percent of the nurse-midwifery education programs included instruction in the use of herbal preparations to stimulate labor in their formal curricula, and 92% included informal discussions on the use of herbal preparations. Evening primrose oil was the most common herbal preparation discussed in nurse-midwifery education programs. Castor oil was the most commonly used herbal preparation used by nurse-midwives in clinical practice.

Note: Article McFarlin BL, W Virginia Univ, Sch Med, Dept Obstet & Gynecol, POB 9186, Morgantown,WV 26506 USA

Keyword(s): BLUE COHOSH; MEDICATION; MEDICINES; PREGNANCY; BLACK


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