Ever since you received the positive results of your pregnancy test, you have been looking forward to and (possibly) dreading the ultimate experience, the birth of your baby. As the months have gone by, you have gradually prepared yourself for what is one of the most meaningful experiences you will ever go through – bringing your little baby into the world.
If you are properly prepared for labour and delivery, having a baby does not have to be that difficult. If you examine the choices in front of you and find what works for you, you will remember the pleasurable aspects of bringing your baby into the world far more than the pain that it involves.
Having your baby at home is becoming more and more popular in the western world. Paradoxically, when our grandmothers were young, most first babies were born in the hospital, and subsequent children were born at home. But as time moved on, this was considered dangerous, and most women today have their babies in hospital. Today, the pendulum has started to swing the other way as many women want to have their babies at home as they feel more relaxed in their own space.
Statistically, most women still have their babies in hospital, and if this is what you decide to do, you still have choices to make. For example, what kind of care do they offer both during and your baby is born?
One of the most prevalent arguments regarding childbirth is the level of intervention that is necessary. For example, when it comes to pain relief, there are many options on offer. Some women prefer to use an epidural and not feel the contractions at all, or take drugs like pethidine, which will dull their sensations and awareness of what is going on.
Other women prefer to take a more natural route and to use the pain of the contractions to control their own labour. This means using gas and air at the very most to dull the edge of the pain, but to get through the contractions by using breathing exercises. Breathing in the correct rhythm helps the birthing woman to “ride” the contractions and to overcome the pain through concentration rather than actually dulling it. She may feel the pain more, but she is much more involved and in control of the process.
Sometimes, birth complications can lead to a caesarean instead of a regular delivery, which is not a matter of choice. But if this is your first baby following a caesarean, you should find out if you are able to deliver vaginally. (This is known as a VBAC.) Some women are able to, while others are recommended not to. Speak to your doctor and find out the possibilities.
Another option is having your baby in water, which, while not available in every public hospital, is often on offer in private centres and clinics. Water births are an incredible birthing experience and make having a baby far less painful, read more about the benefits of having a baby in water. But some women may not feel comfortable with this process, and others may worry about the safety of the baby.
Every woman is different, and she will make her own choices based on what works best for her. While breathing is probably the safest option as, unlike pain-relieving drugs, it has absolutely no side effects, many women feel that this would not be enough for them.
To assist you with making these choices, speak to your doctor and the counsellor at your antenatal classes who are accompanying you all the way through your pregnancy. And once you know where you are having your baby and how you are handling your labour, you will hopefully look back at the birth of your precious little one as one of the most meaningful experiences in your life.