Childbirth Options

Cesarean Section
A cesarean section is when the doctor has to make an incision through your abdomen and your uterus in order to deliver your baby. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. The mother will receive either a general anesthetic or an epidural to provide pain relief. This operation is only done when:

- The contractions are not strong enough.
- The cervix does not fully dilate.
- The baby’s head does not come down into the birth canal.
- The baby becomes distressed during labour.
- When the baby has not got his head down in the suitable position for a NVD.
- If the baby is premature.

If your doctor or midwife suggests that you have a planned caesarean section for any other reason, make sure you fully understand their reasons.

Pain Control with Analgesics
Tolerance and perception varies from one woman to the next depending on their pain threshold. Just the thought of pain frightens some women so that they request a pain relief early in labour. Other women opt to have a completely "natural" delivery, without the help of any pain relief.

There are many options for pain relief which don’t involve medication, such as:

Lamaze: This birthing philosphy focuses on helping women become more informed about their labor. Best known for its breathing techniques, Lamaze also uses other relaxtion methods to help women labor naturally.
Bradley techniques: involves relaxation, imagery and breathing.

And those that do require some medication are:

Narcotic analgesics: Pethidine is commonly used for pain relief without total loss of feeling. It is usually given as an intravenous or as an injection into the muscle.
Epidural anaesthesia: this is when the doctor inserts a plastic tube into the space surrounding the spine and injects pain-killing medication usually numbing you from the waist down giving you total pain relief. You may find it difficult to be able to push to your fullest resulting in the use forceps or suction. You will require and intravenous drip to administer fluids and a urinary catheter will be inserted for 4 to 6 hours after delivery.

Natural Childbirth
There are a few different ways to have a natural childbirth, provided that your doctor or midwife feels comfortable with your decisions.

Birthing rooms. This is a room containing a large bed, bathroom, living room and sometimes kitchen facilities. The lighting is low and the mood is intimate and mothers are encouraged to walk, eat and drink. The mother can get into positions she feels most comfortable with, whether it be on her hands and knees, squatting or reclining in a birthing chair or tub. To promote mother and baby bonding, the baby is placed with the mother directly after delivery.

Water births. At home or in a birthing room, a water birth gives newborn babies a peaceful entrance to the world. These are tubs are heated to temperatures of 32 – 38 degrees Celsius where the warm water relaxes your back and pelvic muscles and takes the weight of the baby off your back and hips. The buoyancy of the water helps the baby come down into the birth canal.

Home births. The mother along with her partner and the midwife can create a comfortable setting, usually in a guest room. If you may opt for the water birth option then your bath tub or a portable tub can be used. It is very important to note that if you opt for a home birth that there are appropriate medical backup services should an emergency arise.

If Things Don't Go As Planned
No matter how well you try and plan for your delivery it is always possible that things can go wrong. It may be that you will require an episiotmy or an emergency cesarean section for the wellbeing of you or your newborn. The more you try to learn about the birthing options and process, the more equipped you will be to make those decisions when the time is near. Always keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to deliver a healthy, happy baby regardless of how he arrives.

Article Courtesy of Rabecca van Zyl


Childbirth Options Page 1

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