Giving Birth to a child is the best experience of woman’s life and is always cherished by the mother. Though the complete period from getting pregnant to seeing your child grow is important and beautiful but those moments of labor and delivery seems to be the best. Most painful and risky as well, I think. With the advancement in technology and in the field of medicines we have many healthy delivery options available to us and we can choose whatever suits us the best. In this article we will discuss both benefits and risks involved in 2 major types – Vaginal Birth and C-section or Cesarean delivery. We will also discuss about not so common Water Birth.
Vaginal birth is the most common and natural way of delivering baby. Doctors wait for natural contractions to start and then close enough to deliver the baby. These contractions dilate the cervix. But in some cases, contractions are not enough, and the doctor must use medicines to dilate it.
Benefits of Vaginal Birth:
- Faster recovery and discharge from the hospital. Mother and baby are allowed to leave in 24-48 hours of vaginal birth.
- Risks of scarring and infections are very less in vaginal birth as compared to C-Section.
- Mother can hold her baby and start breast-feeding earlier because she is not under the impact of anesthesia.
- Baby gets a special bacterium present in mother’s birth canal which boosts baby’s immune system.
- Fluid is squeezed out of the baby’s lungs during the process of vaginal birth and, hence preventing any breathing problems.
Cons of Vaginal Birth:
- Risk of Tearing of Vaginal skin and tissues in case of prolonged labor during vaginal birth and this may need stitches.
- Force during labor in vaginal birth may cause some damage to pelvic organs and loss of control over bladder. It will result in urine leak during cough or sneeze.
- Some women experience pain between their vagina and anus for some time.
- If baby is large, she may suffer injuries like bruised scalp during the process of vaginal birth.
- It may cause breathing problems in case of multiple babies.
One other method of vaginal delivery that is not so common yet is water birth. Today more and more women are preferring this because its more soothing and pleasurable. Though the expecting mother has to go through almost the same amount of labor pain, lukewarm water makes it much more bearable. Also, the transition from ammoniac sac to water environment is easier for baby.
In this process, mother sits in a tub filled with lukewarm water during the labor and delivery. Submersion in water during initial labor stage may shorten the duration of labor and you may not require any pain relief medicine. It can be done at home, at birthing center or even in the hospital. If you are opting for delivery at home, you should keep all the supplies ready with you along with someone professional and experienced to help you. You can also choose to labor in the water tub and then deliver normally out of water.
This process of water birth has its benefits, but it can be risky in few cases. We will discuss that going further in our article.
Advantages of Water Birth:
- Lukewarm water around soothes, comforts and relaxes the mother’s body.
- The buoyancy eases the body movement and positioning during delivery.
- Improved blood circulation and efficient contraction of uterine muscles leads to better oxygenation of uterine muscles. Reduced pain for mother and more oxygen for baby.
- This process of water birth helps in stress free delivery and hence keeping the blood pressure controlled. It also releases endorphins which works as pain-inhibitors.
- It allows the mother to focus on birth and gives her a better experience of bringing her child to this world.
- Perineum becomes more elastic and relaxed, therefore reducing the incidence of tearing and the need for any stitches.
- If you choose to do water birth at home, it gives the expecting mother a sense of security as well.
- Since the baby grows inside the mother’s body in fluid only, water birth gives him/her the similar environment as the amniotic sac.
- Mother can hold her baby right after the water birth and this gives a secure feeling to the baby.
Disadvantages/Risk of Water Birth:
- It may cause excessive vaginal bleeding in few cases and there is risk of water entering the mother’s blood stream.
- If umbilical cord is kinked and baby feels some difficulty in breathing, he may swallow water. Though the chances are low because baby breathes though umbilical cord only till the time its cut.
- Umbilical cord may snap due to water pressure, but it can be avoided by holding the baby carefully.
- Prolonged immersion of mother in water may cause skin infection.
- Water may make it difficult to monitor baby’s vitals like heartbeat and contraction recordings.
- Pneumonia – May result in fever or high body temperatures for both mother and baby.
Who should not opt Water Birth?
Though most of the study say water birth is as safe as any other healthy delivery options but following points should be noted before choosing it.
- Water birth is done by pulling baby’s feet out first and then rest of the body. So, you must take doctor’s advice to decide which one you should choose.
- Mother who is expecting multiple babies should not opt water birth and if they want to then discuss with a doctor thoroughly.
- If mother has any infection, avoid water birth as it may get transferred to the baby also.
- This option is not advisable for pre-term deliveries, consult with your doctor in any such circumstances.
- Herpes transfers through water easily, so, if mother has this then avoid water birth.
Cost of Water Birth:
Water Birth in India may cost from 80,000 to 1.25 lakh rupees. Right now, we don’t have this support in many hospitals. Even those which have this facility are also closing this because families don’t prefer water birth. Some insurance providers may consider water birth at a birthing center/ hospital but not the water birth at home. So, if you are thinking of water birth at home, do talk to your insurance provider about it.
You may also need a mid-wife or someone professional to supervise the whole process. Keep the supplies ready well before due date, so that there is no need to rush at the time of delivery.
Why this option (water birth) is still less used?
Despite of so many benefits to both mother and baby, people don’t prefer water birth. This is the result of both lack of awareness and fear of harm to baby. But this is just a misconception. Chances of survival are same as in normal delivery, but this process needs more supervision. Someone has to observe that baby is pulled out of water at time and doesn’t swallow any water.
Not many hospitals support this procedure of water birth yet and people are not comfortable with delivery at home. But as the knowledge is spreading, people are choosing water birth at home. Families are realizing the benefits of this process and give mothers the chance to be stress free during labor and delivery.
C-section or Cesarean:
Cesarean is a procedure in which the baby is delivered by making a small surgical cut on mother’s abdomen and then on the uterus. And once the baby is safely brought out and umbilical cord is cut, the cut on mother’s body is closed with stitches.
This procedure is preferred when there are complications in normal vaginal delivery. When the baby is in wrong position inside the womb or the contractions are not enough for vaginal birth. There are many other reasons due to which the doctor or the parents prefer c-section over normal delivery.
Cons of C-Section:
- Pain: Mother will feel more pain during this delivery, but she will be given some kind of pain relief. She will also feel pain in her wounds for few days after the operation and will have to take utmost care of the stitches.
- Infection: there are chances of infection in wound or in womb lining due to surgery. Many women suffer from UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) after their delivery.
- Adhesions: This is probably the most dangerous one. Adhesions are the bands of scar tissues which make the organs to stick to each other. I have personally seen women facing issues due to this even after many years of delivering their child. This doesn’t have any major symptoms, so you may not notice it, but it causes discomfort and slight pain. It limits the movement of internal organs.
- Bleeding: mother loses more blood in c-section then in vaginal delivery. Though the major blood loss is during surgery and doctors take care of it. But blood transfusion can sometimes cause trouble. Each packet of blood that is given to any patient is thoroughly checked for any infections, but few infections can still go un-noticed. So, one has to choose carefully before going for C-section
- Problems in further deliveries: after C-Section, the mother may face problem in delivering vaginally in future. Because the force during labor will create stress in stitches.
Pros of C-section:
- Reduced Labor pain: if you are someone who is scared of labor pain and doesn’t want to go through that, then you may opt C-section.
- Zero impact on pelvic muscles: Vaginal delivery may cause urinary incontinence, which is not the case with C-Section.
- Scheduled delivery: since this doesn’t involve labor pain, you don’t need to wait for contractions, and you can talk to your doctor about the date you want your baby to be delivered. Obviously after the due date, you don’t want to deliver a pre-mature baby.
Our thoughts – Healthy Delivery Options
Water birth is safe and less painful. If you don’t have any above-mentioned risks and your doctor thinks you are healthy for it then you should definitely choose this. This stress-free labor and delivery will give you immense pleasure in bringing your child to this beautiful world while you hold it close to you with your own arms.
Go for C-section or cesarean in case your child is not healthy, or the doctor thinks vaginal delivery is not possible.
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