One of the most asked questions, as you near the end of your pregnancy, will probably be “Are you going to have natural birth or a ceasarian?” You’ll then consider who you’re speaking to; an obviously pro-vaginal-drug-free kind of woman or a too-posh-to-push mama, and adapt your answer accordingly.
You’ll also, no doubt, be given loads of free advice from well meaning women who’ve gone through the birth process once, twice, three times and (gasp) even more. They’ll even tell you their horror (and often exaggerated) stories; about how they tore, how the doctor performed a “massive episiotomy” and how they couldn’t stand, never mind walk, for at least three weeks after having a ceasarian.
Then there are those who swear that real women only have drug-free water births. They insist that you won’t bond with your baby if you have a ceasarian and that you’ll lose the wonderful experience associated with giving birth naturally if you opt for an epidural.
Hog wash! Go with your gut and should your doctor advise you to opt for a certain birth option for medical reasons, go with it. Your first and only priority in this case should be your baby’s safety.
So what options do you have?
If you’ve had a normal, problem-free pregnancy this could be the ideal plan for you. Many women would prefer to give birth in the comfort of their own homes, where they’re familiar with their surroundings and where their loved ones can be close by.
This is a safe option, provided that your doctor hasn’t spotted any potential problems and you have a qualified and experienced midwife at your side. Delivering your baby at home is also much easier on the pocket as you won’t have to pay costs for the labour ward, theatre, maternity ward etc.
The disadvantage here is that should there be any problems, it’ll take a while to get to the nearest hospital.
A home birth is not for you if you have a history of medical problems or if you’ve experienced pre-term labour.
You can decide to go to hospital if you’re exhausted after a long labour and don’t want to carry on, if your blood pressure shoots up, if your baby is showing signs of distress or if you experience any other form of complications.
Water births have for many years been seen as the Shoo Wow, rural, hippy option. That is far from the truth as many modern, professional women in the cities believe this is the best option for them.
The theory behind water birth is that the baby has been gently floating in amniotic fluid for 9 months and will gently be delivered into water, making the birth experience less traumatic.
Water is also known to ease pain experienced during contractions.
A water birth is perfectly safe if you have had a healthy pregnancy and if your doctor doesn’t foresee any problems during the birthing process. You would need to have an experienced midwife at your side through the whole process.
One of the most spoken about concerns is that the baby could breathe in water as he’s born. This is highly unlikely as the baby will only take its first breath when it comes into direct contact with air. During the water birth process, the baby enters water and is then lifted out of the water and placed on his mother’s breast once he’s breathing nicely.
If the baby experiences stress in the birth canal, he could take a breath, but according to the American Pregnancy Association, it is extremely rare.
One of the downsides of a water birth could be that you can only opt for certain pain relief medications, as you need to have control of your body during labour. There will be no epidurals during your water birth!
You can opt to have a water birth at home, using a hired-bath or have your baby at a hospital that offers water birth facilities. Doing this in hospital is probably safer in the event of an emergency.
Hospital Birth / Vaginal Delivery
In most cases, women opt for having a vaginal delivery in hospital. Most hospitals, especially private facilities, have modern, state of the art equipment that can be used to safely deliver your baby.
In the event of a complication, emergency medical equipment and facilities are close-by. There will also be a team of specialists on hand, to deal with any problems.
If you’d like to have a less-intrusive delivery, you can speak to your doctor and ask that the lights be dimmed, that your favourite, calming music be played and that certain people be allowed into the ward to hold your hand.
In hospital, you are allowed to choose whether you’d like to have pain medication and whether that should include an epidural; something not available to mom’s choosing to have a home delivery or water birth.
The downside is the cost involved.
Elective Ceasarian Section
More and more these days, women are opting to have an Elective ceasarian. Many refer to these moms as being too posh to push, which shouldn’t be seen as a criticism as an elective ceasarian may be the best choice for them.
Your doctor may advise that you have a caesarian if you have certain medical problems, including Placenta previa, Placental abruption and if your baby is in the breech position. In this case it would be safer to deliver your baby in the theatre.
But some women, who are perfectly healthy and physically able to deliver naturally, will opt to pick a date and book themselves in for the surgery. This could be because the woman has had a bad experience in the past while delivering vaginally, because the woman is terrified of delivering vaginally or it could simply be because this would be more convenient.
There are complications that could arise during the ceasarian, but if you’re at a credible facility, all should go perfectly well.
One of the downsides of a ceasarian is that you have to recover from surgery. For some women it’s a breeze. For others it may be more difficult. But there is also a recovery process from a vaginal delivery especially if you’ve torn or had an episiotomy.
Once you’ve decided how you want to deliver your baby, tell your family members and your doctor. What is crucial is that you go into the birthing process with an open mind. Should the water birth not go according to plan and an ambulance is summonsed to take you to hospital, where your baby is delivered, don’t stress. It’s pointless crying (although perfectly understandable and normal) through the caesarian section because you really wanted a drug-free vaginal birth.
Don’t feel like you’ve failed. In fact you would have won, as you’ll be holding a healthy, happy, cooing baby in your arms – whether he was delivered in water or in a theatre.