Birth plans are born of both your personal preference, based on your beliefs and comfort level, and your doctor’s expert medical opinion. But as they say, even the best laid plans rarely get followed perfectly, so it pays to keep an open mind and know as much as you can about the different ways you can safely deliver your baby should your options change due to circumstances beyond your control
At the end of the day, there is no “right’ to give birth, and it’s unfair to believe that one method is superior to the other. Given the unpredictable nature of labor and delivery, whatever gets your baby in your arms as safely as possible at the end of the day is ultimately the “best” way. While it’s always good to have a plan and preference, it’s always smart to adopt an “anything can happen, so just roll with it” attitude–it will serve you well throughout parenthood, too.
No longer the province of hippie moms, drug- and hospital-free births are now becoming widely practiced. More and more women are aiming for a natural birth, whether at home or at a birthing facility, with as little intervention as possible.
- Make your decision early and get the best support possible. Make sure your doctor believes in natural birth and helps provide you the best prenatal education possible. You will need to learn breathing techniques, learn the signs of early labor, and labor pain management. Explore midwives and doulas in your area and schedule appointments early on in your pregnancy.
- Maintain a healthy a pregnancy as possible to up your chances of a successful natural birth. Manage your weight gain, do safe prenatal exercise, observe the usual guidelines for home birth (like, no gestational diabetes, for example).
Cesarean Section (C-Section)
C-sections are often viewed as the last resort or an emergency measure should labor and delivery fail to progress properly. Usually, after a prolonged labor riddled with complications that don’t allow labor to progress (example include low amniotic fluid, lack of dilation, or issues with your blood pressure–again, none of your fault), your doctor will opt for a C-section to safely deliver your baby.
An incision will be made in the woman’s abdomen so the doctors can safely access the womb and pull the baby out. Mom will be put under anesthesia for the duration of the procedure and isn’t often allowed the usual post-birth procedures of immediate breastfeeding and prolonged skin-to-skin contact (depending on the circumstances, and on the policy of the specific hospital).
In some cases, a C-section will be scheduled beforehand, if your doctor deems your pregnancy a high-risk one. If you’re a little on the older side, if your baby is proving too big, or if you have complications like preeclampsia or your baby has a cord coil, your doctor might opt for surgery at around 38-39 weeks.
Some women go for elective C-sections, believing it to be the “quicker” and “painless” way to give birth, but more and more hospitals are discouraging this option. Truth be told, it is a major surgery that comes with its own risks and downsides.
- Whether you’re undergoing an emergency or elective C-section, do note that your recovery time post-birth will be longer and more challenging compared to a vaginal delivery.
- Make sure to ask your doctor about post-operative wound care and possible complications that arise from C-sections.
- Invest in a good binder. The right support can help you get you back on your feet faster and much safer.
- Discuss post-surgery pain management medication options with your doctor if you decide to breastfeed. Some drugs won’t be allowed for nursing/lactating mothers.
Vaginal/ “Normal” Delivery
Also called spontaneous vaginal delivery (SVD), this is the type of birth most people are familiar with. All natural deliveries can be considered SVD, with the caveat that no drugs or extra medical intervention was needed. With normal vaginal birth, a woman goes into labor on her own without induction or external help, then delivers her baby through her birth canal without the use of tools like forceps or vacuums.
Epidurals are common features of vaginal births, as a means of pain management through labor. A woman must be dilated to 10 centimeters before she is given the signal to push the baby out.
- Familiarize yourself with the pain management options available to you. Some women opt to stave off the epidural as long as they can, because some experts say it can stall your labor. Others opt for gas and air instead, which is inhaled through a mask and provides temporary pain relief.
- Get to know the different phases of labor and dilation. The early stages of labor can be frustrating, especially when the hospital sends you home. Know how much and how far you can labor on your own–it all depends on your comfort level. Make sure you communicate with your doctor these details in your birth plan.