When selecting a birth method, mothers want a choice that leaves them feeling empowered, heard, and in control. There are many types and many times, cost and access determine the best birthing method. There is a lot of information for prenatal mums to parse and this can get overwhelming. The first thing to do is decide on the birthing method within the first trimester. Birth plans won’t always ensure perfection. However, they allow you to appropriately prepare for delivery and have resources in place in case of emergencies.
What should you consider when choosing a birth plan?
Assisted v unassisted birth
A birth plan can be determined by whether you need assisted or unassisted birth. Assisted birth is delivery where intervention is required, such as using forceps or a suction cup, or via c-section. Unassisted birth is also known as free birth where you deliver your baby without medical assistance or with limited medical intervention.
Depending on where you live, you may only be able to deliver at home. Some areas have hospitals or maternity centres near their homes.
Various methods are more expensive than others. For instance, it may be more affordable to have a home birth with a doula rather than going to a hospital.
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Different types of birth
1. Vaginal delivery
This is the most common delivery method the baby is delivered through the birth canal. It’s considered the lowest risk method if the mother doesn’t have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure and if the baby is in the normal position. It occurs between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. It has three stages labour, birth, and delivery of the placenta.
Vaginal deliveries have faster recovery times than surgical delivery. It also has the lowest risk of infection. Additionally, it has lower respiratory risks for the baby and means breastfeeding is easier.
There are two types of vaginal delivery. Spontaneous vaginal delivery is when a mother goes into labour naturally at around 40 weeks of pregnancy. Induced vaginal delivery is when drugs or other interventions are used to induce birth. These techniques are used to soften the cervix. This happens when a mother has a medical condition or the mother doesn’t go into labour even after the due date.
During labour, the cervix dilates enough for the baby to pass through. Once the cervix is fully dilated, a doctor or doula will then tell you to push the baby out. This is important to ensure there is no risk of infection, bleeding, or injury to the pelvis.
If the vagina isn’t wide enough for the baby to pass through, a doctor can place an episiotomy. This is an incision that increases the size of the vaginal opening to help the baby’s head pass easier. Doctors can also offer anaelgesics or anaesthetics to help manage the pain that comes with vaginal birth.
2. Assisted vaginal delivery
This is when a doctor or midwife has to use forceps or a vacuum to force the baby out of the birth canal. This happens when you have been in labour for too long, the labour isn’t progressing, you have fatigue, and the baby and the mother are in distress. The medical practitioner will determine which is the best and safest way to deliver the baby for both based on the health conditions arising during labour.
Assisted vaginal delivery methods are:
- Forceps delivery: This is a tong-like tool that is used to grab the baby’s head and pull it out of the birth canal.
- Vacuum extraction delivery: This is a suction cup put on the baby’s head to pull the baby as you push it out.
This is birth through surgical incisions in the abdomen and uterus. A C-section can be planned in advance or used as an emergency response. C-sections are more likely to be recommended if you’ve had a C-section delivery before, have multiple babies, a large baby, or have uterine fibroids. In addition, C-sections are necessary for mothers with a breech baby, or placenta previa, a condition where the placenta blocks the baby’s exit from the vagina.
An unplanned C-section can also happen because of the following conditions:
- Foetal distress
- Umbilical cord prolapse which is when the umbilical cord comes out of the cervix before the baby
- Placental abruption which is when the placenta separates from the uterus in the third trimester
- Excessive bleeding
C-sections carry the risk of infection, blood loss, blood clots, and abdominal adhesions. They also have a longer recovery time than vaginal delivery.
However, a C-section birth gives you more control when choosing a delivery date. An elective C-section is usually reserved for medical conditions. Unless medically necessary, a C-section shouldn’t be done before 39 weeks. C-sections also reduce the risk of trauma of the baby passing through the birth canal, such as oxygen deprivation. They also reduce the risk of incontinence or sexual dysfunction. 6 Tips To Heal Faster After A C-section
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4. Vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC)
You can still have a baby vaginally after a C-section. However, a vaginal birth can cause the surgical cuts from the C-section to rupture. This is only possible if you got a low transverse incision during your first C-section, have no other uterine scars, have done previous vaginal deliveries, and have never had a uterine rupture.
5. Bradley method
This is a birth plan where mothers are coached for natural unassisted delivery without medical intervention. It’s taught over three months, and mothers learn how to reduce pain from vaginal birth, nutrition, and other natural health plans. The Bradley method also teaches new parents how to prepare for birth and what to do when the baby arrives.
The Bradley method classes need to start in the second trimester. Natural unassisted births carry the risk of having no medical assistance in the event of a complication.
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6. Water birth
This can be done at home or in a hospital. A pregnant mother stands or lies in a bathtub and delivers the baby underwater. It’s considered that delivery with a water birth is less painful. It also gives mothers the space to try different positions to ensure they’re comfortable.
However, if the birth tub isn’t sterilized and the water changed frequently, it increases the chances of infection. The water also has to be warm, not hot or cold. Hospitals are better equipped to get the safest temperature for mother and baby. If the water birth is taking place at home and a complication arises, the mother has to be transported to a hospital.
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