C-sections have gained popularity over natural childbirth in recent years inspite of the fact that they involve risks for both the mother and the baby, though they have been saving lives globally when medically necessary. Yet, many pregnant women having low risk pregnancies are opting for c-section deliveries- making it a common way of birthing. Statistically, about 1 in 5 pregnant women give birth via c-section. Alarmingly enough, In India, the C-section rates in private and government hospitals have risen over the WHO recommendation of 10%-15% to 27.7% and 15.2%. Performing C-sections when not medically required can pose lifelong risks of future complications in subsequent deliveries.
What Is A Normal Delivery?
Pregnancy is a wonderful combination of pains and gains. It has its own share of worries and complaints. Almost every expectant woman wishes to have a normal delivery but not everyone is able to have since one has zero control over dire emergencies. As per Healthy People 2020, about 85% pregnant women can achieve an un-medicated, normal birth. With changing times and perceptions, many women have started to prefer C-sections over vaginal deliveries owing to various reasons. (Read more about it here).
Normal delivery is a natural process that every woman is capable of to bring a child into this world. Barring certain medical conditions, it is largely possible for pregnant women to have natural, normal child-birthing experiences. Some medical conditions make it inevitable to carry a C-section for the benefit of the mother and the baby. With very little or no medical intervention, particularly the use of anesthetic medications and surgical interventions such as episiotomies, or assisted methods of delivery, a natural birth proves conducive for a healthy baby and quicker recovery with minimum complications for the mother. A natural child birth also makes it easier for the mother to breastfeed the baby. Although there is no short cut or a formula to ensure that one can have a normal delivery, there are certain steps that when taken during a pregnancy, increase the likelihood of having a natural, normal childbirth.
What Are The Chances Of A Normal Delivery For A First Time Mother?
No joy beats the extraordinary happiness of having a first baby. A first time mother has all the chances of having a normal delivery provided her pregnancy is not a complicated or a high risk one. Also, first time mothers are often apprehensive about labor pains and the process of delivery vaginally, which needs to be clarified with your doctor. A normal delivery is actually a possibility for every pregnant woman, and C-sections were reserved mainly for obstetric emergencies. However, c-sections have become a norm now, even in low risk pregnancies. Some tips for having a normal delivery for first time mothers have been enlisted and you can increase your chances by following them.
Why Should I Prefer Natural And Normal Delivery?
In today’s age, most doctors assume that a woman in labor would need pain medications, and most women expect a pain reliever as soon as labor strikes in. However, birthing is largely a natural experience, and unless there is an emergency, it is best to keep medical interventions at a bay. God has made a way to deliver babies, and women have been doing so since times immemorial. Yours, mine and most women’s bodies are designed that way. In the wake of prevalent C-sections, many women have forgotten that a natural delivery paves the way for quick healing and faster recovery, and is actually beneficial for the mother. Natural labor is also shorter, and enables a woman to connect to childbirth experience closely. Breastfeeding is also facilitated after a natural birthing experience as both the mother and the baby are fully aware and alert. (Yes, epidurals can be passed on to the baby, and he may appear to be drugged, showing less or no interest in breastfeeding). Infact, research has shown that if a baby is left skin-to-skin with the mother immediately after birth, the natural instinct is to crawl to the mother’s breast and suck. Above all, natural births is often healthier, not just for a mother, but even the babies. Know how c-section births can affect your baby.
What Is The Process Of Normal Birth?
First, we’d like to stress on the fact that every birth is unique, and so is every baby. Normal or natural child birth largely involves 3 stages of labor as discussed below:
- First Stage: – wherein the uterus effaces and dilates. The first stage consists of 3 phases:
- Early phase This is the stage when the labor begins – differently for all women. In the early phase of labpr, the cervix dilates to 3-4 cms over a period of a few hours or days. While for some women no noticeable symptoms may appear, others can have strong, irregular contractions spaced anywhere between 5-30 minutes lasting 30-45 seconds. In some women, the rupture of membranes or “water breaking” may happen at this stage or later.It is not uncommon to see some pink discharge and feel abdominal discomfort
- Active phase In the active phase of labor, the cervix dilates from 4-7 cms, and the labor starts to get intense increasing in frequency. The contractions are now spaced apart 3-5 minutes, centering around lower back, abdomen and thighs. You will find it hard to talk now, and may experience some more pinkish discharge – known as the “bloody show”
- Transition phase During the last and final phase of first stage labor, the cervix dilates to 8 to 10 cms. You will experience strong, intense and painful contractions spaced out 1-3 minutes apart. In this phase, you will find yourself fatigued, nauseous and somewhat shaky. Though you will feel strongly to push the baby as the pressure in the rectal area increases, hold the urge until your doctor suggests the same. Focus on breathing and relaxation techniques, resist the urge to push and keep reminding yourself that you are going to meet your baby soon
- Second Stage: – wherein the baby is pushed out and is born.
The second stage of labor starts when the cervx is fully dilated. You will be asked to push down at this stage, which can leave you breathless and fatigued. The vaginal area will be in intense pain as the baby’s head crowns, the perineal area will also be sore. If you have to have an episiotomy, it will happen at this stage. Once the baby’s head is out, pushing the rest of the body might seem easy. And then with one last push, your baby will be out in the world!
- Third Stage: – where the placenta is removed from the mother’s body.
Accompanied with cramping, you will push the placenta out of your body, though you may hardly notice this stage as all your attention and energy is now focused on your baby. With so much happening around, you might feel overwhelmed and burst into tears. You can ask your baby to be put to your breast for the first feed and skin to skin contact. This will further help in contracting the uterus. Just close your eyes and rest your brain – for now you are a mother!
What Happens When You Are In Labor?
As explained above, labor comprises of 3 stages, and the whole process can last anywhere from a few hours to two-three days. Labor is harder for first time mothers but it generally eases out in the subsequent deliveries. Try to use the breathing and relaxing techniques learnt at the birth classes, and find a comfortable position to give birth. IF you have a birth partner, he will be playing a crucial role in your delivery. Though painful, most women can birth naturally.
How Long Does It Take To Be In Labor?
Though there is no one shoe that fits all, some generic rough ideas about how long a labor will last have been known to depend on the below factors:
- If this is your first baby
- If this is not your first baby, how many births have happened and when was the last delivery
- The ease with which your cervix dilates and opens up
- Strength and intensity of labor pains
- Whether or not you are using an epidural
- Position of your baby
- Whether you are stressed or calm about childbirth
Based on the above factors, the length and intensity of your labor is decided, though no one can certainly be sure about it. It is said that first time moms experience longer labor, and it may ease out in subsequent deliveries. Active labor can take 5-8 hours, though it may be longer, but rarely extending beyond 18 hours. If you have had a baby before, it may be around 5 to a maximum of 12 hours. Once the cervix is dilated fully, it could be another 2 hours to push for a first time delivery, though it may just be a few minutes in subsequent deliveries. The separation of placenta may take upto half an hour but it usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Sometimes, labor can be really fast – for reasons like quick dilation, proper breathing techniques and a calm and relaxed mind. The most important factor is to trust your instincts and remain calm and relxed during the phase.
How Painful Is The Birth?
It would be incorrect to say that labor is not painful – it is, indeed, an intense and a painful process. But labor experiences vary greatly among different women, and even among different pregnancies in the same woman. The pain is mainly the result of the uterus contracting greatly to push your baby out, resulting in intense muscle tightening in the abdomen. The back, perineum, vaginal area, rectal area, bladder, abdomen and the pelvic belt come under a lot of stress during labor, and all these factors work in combination to give you that intense, strong pain and discomfort. Also, your personal pain threshold is another factor that determines how painful the birth will be. Genetics, fear, anxiety, life experiences and your or other’s birth stories can also influence your labor.
10 Simple Tips For Help You Have A Normal Delivery
However, how you have the baby is secondary, your primary concern should be sailing through the pregnancy smoothly and having a healthy baby. During pregnancy, avoid thinking too much about your probability of having a normal delivery or a cesarean section. About 85% of pregnant women do have a fair chance of delivering vaginally, but only about 65% are successful. If you are one of those women who want to have a baby the normal way, some simple sure shot tips as listed below can be of help. Here are some simple and easy tips that can help you have a safe normal delivery. They also help you glide through the labor pain and discomfort with ease.
- Regular exercises: Doing mild exercises throughout pregnancy can help you build not only good stamina but also keep you active during this span. So, cultivate the habit of exercising regularly. Regular exercises with vitality can strengthen the pelvic muscles. Kegels are particularly helpful. The strong thigh muscles are helpful in combating the stress of labor pains. Pelvic stretches and tilts, deep squats, aquatic pregnancy exercises can open your hips and make your pelvic muscles stronger to enable you to have a normal delivery. Keep in mind to exercise under the supervision of an expert as wrongly done exercises can do harm to you and your baby. You can also try prenatal yoga, which increases flexibility and will help you have breathing control. Yoga will also keep you relaxed and calm. However, in the interest of your and the baby’s safety, always take prenatal exercises/yoga classes from an expert. Infact, you can do some simple exercises at home that can help you have a normal delivery
- Refrain from stress: Stay away from stress, anxiety and too much contemplation. Your current phase requires you to stay cool and composed. There are times when avoiding stress is quite difficult still try to be calm. Read good books about parenting and be in the company of good, friendly people. Steer yourself clear from situations and people that make you anxious or cause you discomfort. Remember maternal stress can adversely affect the baby’s health and wellness
- Practise right breathing techniques: Breathing exercises are very important as during the process of delivery you need to hold breath from time to time. Proper and sufficient oxygen supply is mandatory for enhancing growth of the baby. So, practice meditation and deep breathing exercises regularly. This way you will inch a step closer to having a normal delivery
- Refrain from hearing horror birth stories: Avoid hearing negative stories from women who already had babies is very important. Stay away from hear say and negative conversations. Some women are fond of narrating their painful and difficult delivery stories. Make a point to stay away from hearing such tales. These negative stories can adversely affect the progression of natural course of delivery
- Watch your diet: Eat properly and eat rightly. Nutrition is important not only for your health but also for the health and development of your baby. Food is essential for making your strong and for nourishing your body. A healthy and well nourished mother is capable of facing the challenges of labor easily and more comfortably. Drink a lot of water and eat a lot of green fresh vegetables and fruits. Where fruits and vegetables will nourish your body with essential nutrients, water will keep you hydrated and cool. However, you must keep a tab on your weight as well, as too much weight gain can interfere with your chances of having a normal delivery. Many times women put on a lot of weight on the excuse of pregnancy by eating fatty foods. Keep your cravings and control and opt for healthy, wholesome food. Gaining just the recommended weight during pregnancy weight during pregnancy can pave the way for a normal delivery
- Get prenatal and birthing information: Educate yourself well about the process of delivery and labor. Get information on natural pain management techniques like breathing, relaxation and other natural labor management coping techniques. You can ask your doctor to tell you more about delivery or can join prenatal classes to enhance your knowledge about the phenomenon of giving birth. Prenatal classes that cover labor pain management techniques would be particularly helpful. You can also research online, read good books and have a confident mind. Such knowledge will help you shed all your apprehensions and fears about childbirth and you can have a safe and easy delivery. You can face delivery with a clear mindset
- Spend early labor at home: Labor is real hard work, and early labor is the beginning of an intense, exhausting process. Early labor can be long – especially for first time mothers, and if you drop to a hospital too soon, you will likely be sent back. Spend this time at home, relaxing your body and mind, and resting as much as you can. If this is your first child, you will not know what to expect when you go into early labor- hence getting information on the signs and symptoms is a must. Stocked up with the right information, you will be able to avoid multiple trips to the hospital
- Consult a good doctor: Consult a good obstetrician and get your antenatal check-ups done regularly and routinely. Seek out someone who is into natural birth, avoid those whose C-section or epidural cases are higher. If you feel she is not responding you well, do not hesitate to find another cooperative doctor. Remember a good doctor can boost your morale and help you get rid of all your delivery fears. However, if you do not have any health concerns, make it a point to go for a low intervention pregnancy. Get only those tests done that are essential, and skip the optional ones. Remember, not every patient needs everything. Read about tips on finding a good gynecologist. The less you interfere with your pregnancy, the higher the chances of nature taking its way
- Regular perineal massages: You need to have regular perineal massages done after the seventh month of pregnancy. It reduces stress, helps an expectant mother tackle labor efficiently and mitigates joint pains and muscular tensions
- Adequate sleep and water: Sound and undisturbed sleep is essential for promoting proper growth and development of the baby. Keep the room dimly lit and noise-free to have a sound sleep. Avoid drinking tea or coffee two hours before going to bed in order to have uninterrupted sleep. Also, make sure you are drinking adequate water so as to prevent urinary tract infections which pregnant women are prone to. Water will also help prevent dehydration, and help with edema during pregnancy
Do not worry about the pains associated with normal delivery. Your support system- your husband, your sister or mother should be by your side while you experience labor pains. Besides this, it is also very important for you to have somebody reliable close to you always. Avoid being alone in the house, especially when you are in your ninth month of pregnancy. Having someone reliable helps in easing discomfort and stress levels. You will feel empowered to tackle labor easily when you know your loved ones are by your side. While you are pregnant, read good literature and keep your spirits lifted. Think about your child and feel strong. It is after all the baby that matter the most-whether the baby is delivered by C-section or via normal delivery. The most important point is to be happy and feel special. You are having a new life in your womb-the thought itself is so exciting. Enjoy every moment of your pregnant-hood and be mentally prepared for the new arrival. When you are happy, feel-good hormone is released that keeps you high spirited and eliminates the feelings of anxiety and worries.