Natural ChildbirthAs a mum-to-be, you may be keen to have a natural childbirth so that you have more control over what happens during the delivery of your baby.Natural childbirth aims, as far as possible, to avoid the use of drugs and interventions that may adversely affect the baby or detract from the mother’s birthing experience. Painkillers administered to the mother during delivery can make the baby sleepy and depress his or her vital signs at birth. This can affect the vital bonding between mother and baby that needs to take place as soon as possible after birth and it may make it more difficult to breastfeed your baby.During the 1970s and 80s there was a backlash among expectant mothers against what many people saw as the general ‘medicalization’ of childbirth and, in particular, the number of Caesarean sections that were being routinely performed to save the mother undergoing pain. A Caesarean section involves a bikini line incision to extract the baby quickly from the uterus. It can be a lifesaving operation when needed in an emergency delivery but many people feel that there are still too many routine Caesareans being performed. Each individual situation is different.
However, so it is a good idea to explore all the options and discuss them with your obstetrician well in advance of the birth. Epidural anaesthesia is another procedure that mothers wanting a natural delivery may wish to avoid if possible. It involves injecting an anaesthetic that numbs the lower half of the body. Whilst it removes the pain of delivery it also removes all sensation of what is happening, meaning that the mother is less able to assist by pushing correctly. This in turn may mean that a forceps or suction cap (ventouse) delivery is more likely and there may also be an increased risk of the mother tearing, or requiring an episiotomy to try and prevent tearing. Nitrous oxide (gas and air) is sometimes used during ‘natural’ childbirth to help with the pain of contractions and it is not thought to adversely affect mother or baby. It does have the disadvantage of taking a minute or two to work however, which means you have to time it right or you don’t get the benefit. It can also make you feel a bit dizzy or woozy. The key to a happy delivery is to be as well-informed as possible about all the possible options so that you can be flexible and opt for what is best in the circumstances.