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Gynaecologist Dr Madhushree Vijayakumar Explains 10 Things You Should Know About Vaginal Childbirth

1. Who can have a vaginal delivery? When is it a must that a woman goes in for a C-section?

Anyone with a healthy pregnancy can have a vaginal delivery. There are times where a C-section is either planned or in other instances, where it’s an emergency. The stay in hospital after vaginal birth is much shorter than that of a C-section. There has been a considerable rise in the number of C-sections happening over the past years. A planned C-section is usually recommended when there are complications with the placenta like a low-lying placenta, the position of the baby, or complications when you have multiple babies.

2. Can you explain what exactly happens during vaginal childbirth?

A woman’s body is so beautifully designed to help her during childbirth. The shape of your pelvis, your hormones and all those powerful muscles work together in unison to bring a new life on earth. A few weeks or days before childbirth you will experience what is called the Braxton Hicks contractions. Contractions are nothing but your uterus tightening and relaxing. This is a method that your body uses to prepare yourself for childbirth.

3. The pain of labour is what most women worry about. Is there a way to prepare or work through it better? What if a mother can’t handle the pain while in the process of delivering?

Pain during labour is common and faced by almost all women. This is caused by the contractions of muscles in the uterus and the pressure on the cervix. You might also experience cramps in your stomach, groin and back. Pain varies from woman to woman and from labour to labour. So, there is a set intensity that every woman faces during every labour.

4. How can pain medications affect a mother & a baby during labour?

Too much medication during the premature stages of pregnancy is never recommended. However, the medicines given during labour are never intended to harm the mother or the child. It is in fact to ease the process of childbirth. Although one feels considerable relief taking medication, it is important to keep in mind that there are side effects like drowsiness and headaches.

5. Where are some places parents can go for vaginal childbirth, apart from hospitals?

You can always choose where you want to give birth. Home births are becoming a popular option today where most women prefer the comfort of their homes to give birth to their child. In this case, the medical professionals come home with all the necessary equipment and ensure you have a comfortable, healthy birth. Another option is choosing to give birth in a birthing centre.

6. Is it true that engaging certified & trained midwives during such a process can result in shorter labour and fewer chances of a C-section?

Not necessarily. A certified midwife has nothing to do with inducing shorter labour and reducing the chances of a C-section. Yes, they are well trained and provide the most care ensuring you do your best to have a child naturally, however, they are not responsible for complications that result in attempting a C-section.

7. Can you guide us through some of the comfort measures which a mother can engage in before labour?

Before labouring it is very important that you are comfortable. You can do anything you find soothing or comforting as long as your doctor approves. You can do activities like walking, listening to music, slow dance with your partner (this will probably be your last dance alone), use a birthing ball, have warm baths or even exercise (as advised by your doctor). These small things make a huge difference. Changing positions, a massage or any distraction will help.

8. What exactly is the Lamaze Technique & The Bradley Method?

The Lamaze technique is nothing but practising controlled breathing. This tends to relax your body and decrease the perception of pain. You can attend these classes with your partner and learn relaxation techniques. These techniques are usually taught when you are 6–8 weeks within your pregnancy.

9. Do women need to follow some specific lifestyle & eating habits if they want to improve their chances of giving birth vaginally and allow nature to take its course?

Complications during pregnancy are caused due to various reasons like the baby’s position, medical disorders in pregnancy and even nutrition. It is very important to ensure that you eat the right kind of food with the right nutrients to nurture the baby. This does not mean eating twice the amount of food but in fact, looking into the number of calories, vitamins and proteins you are consuming instead.

10. What are some of the risks associated with vaginal births? What is the post-care that is recommended?

Vaginal birth comes with risks too. There are chances of women facing postpartum haemorrhage, need for blood transfusions, third-degree tears, excessive bleeding, or normal diet without any restrictions. Although vaginal births are commonly preferred, they do not come without risks. Postpartum care is as important as the care taken during or before pregnancy.

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