Your Choice: Alternative Birthing Methods for Expecting Mums3 March 2023
As a parent the experience of birth will be the most poignant, memorable, and empowering event in your life as you step into the role of custodian in bringing new life into the world.
As the primary creator of that experience, you will want to be prepared and plan it in detail, with all the essential information at your fingertips, so you can response appropriately when the birthing process begins with those first twinges of labour.
Deciding on the right birth plan for the arrival of your baby is up to you, your partner and your extended support team of family and friends. One thing is certain, you will have plenty of advice and anecdotes from mothers who have experienced the birthing process before you.
Remember, as a unique creation of the universe yourself, you are the one in charge of your body and only you will know the best option for you when it comes to birthing your baby.
There is a wonderful adage: When in doubt go with your gut. Let your inner wisdom and the advice of your doctor help you to design the delivery of you and your partner’s choice so there are no regrets later.
Your childbirth delivery options include:
Natural, unassisted birth at home.
Assisted childbirth at home or in a private birth center.
Natural or assisted birth, including Cesarean surgery at a public or private hospital.
Before settling on your personal preference of birth plan options, it is important to understand that it will depend on three key factors: The overall health of you, of your fetus and your finances.
Getting the right health insurance coverage for your baby’s birth is important as it may require many visits to the doctor. The costs of giving birth at a public or private hospital can be seen as reaching anywhere upwards from R10 000 to R50 000.
Why does it cost so much? Healthcare insurance means you and your baby are covered by the best cutting-edge medical care and support available, with a support network which gives you access to antenatal classes, pregnancy and gestation monitoring and ultrasound scans by your gynecologist, hospital care by an obstetrician – known as a pregnancy specialist should a high risk vaginal births occur or an elective or non-elective caesarean section take place, a midwife, which is a nurse who specializes in childbirth and an epidural anesthetist for emergency monitoring and after birth pain relief for the effects of giving birth which includes episiotomy care which is more common with hospital births. Your baby is also treated with the same top-notch care with all the available equipment and expertise should your baby be premature or require medical attention.
A hospital birth may mean you don’t enjoy much privacy as you are often placed in a general ward with other patients during one of the most personal events of your life and this may be a suitable time to use your medical coverage to book a private room. Unfortunately, only one person is usually allowed into the birth room.
Alternate Birthing Options
If you don’t have medical aid, or you don’t like hospitals, or you have chosen to save up for your own choice in birth experiences you will need to first consider if it is the best option for your baby and for you. For many women who choose a natural home birth, they find it is not possible due to health risks.
If you have a low-risk pregnancy, using a midwife can be a major cost saver and a more natural and relaxed birthing experience for the whole family.
Natural childbirth emphasizes an unrushed, supported process, with minimal interference and less invasive monitoring. Until about 80 years ago, natural childbirth at home was the usual and only childbirth delivery option and mothers only went to hospital if there was an urgent health emergency.
Attending Antenatal classes will help you and your partner to understand and formulate your own birth plan and prepare you for what to expect, as well as teach you about the different pain management and relaxation techniques to prepare you for labour and the birthing process.
Start early on finding a suitable midwife, doula (a modern-day birthing coach) or birthing specialist so you can find connection and trust with them and discuss your needs. A midwife or doula will first check the health of you and your baby and give you useful information to help you have a healthy pregnancy, including advice about eating and exercise. Most importantly, they will be available to discuss your options and choices available for your care, labour and birth, and the health of your baby once delivered.
Even if you elect to have a home birth you will need a checkup by an obstetrician at 28 weeks, 35 weeks, and 37 weeks of pregnancy where they will do scans to monitor the growth and general wellness of your baby; as well as be on call during labor in case of a home birthing emergency.
For many, the support and care of a private midwife and doula is the best solution and outcome for baby and you. They provide a solid base of emotional support and care without the rush associated with hospitals and doctors’ waiting rooms. A midwife is on standby 24/7 for home births or may use private hospital birthing unit or even run their own private birthing center that looks like a luxury guest house over that of the clinical and business-like bustle of a hospital.
A home birth will be a more personal birthing experience but without the support of medication. Instead, you are supported with natural pain relief such as water, massage, reflexology, and aromatherapy and you may choose your own, most comfortable position to give birth using breathing techniques, such as the Lamaze method. Hypnobirthing is another technique which helps new moms to relax and prepare for labour and helps to reduce feelings of fear, anxiety, and pain during the birth.
Surrounded by your family, your child can be born in their own home, without being subjected to suctioning, bright lights, or rough handling.
Some mothers choose to give birth in water as it can be relaxing and less painful. Since your baby lives in the fluid-filled amniotic sac for 9 months, some believe that being delivered into a similar environment is less stressful for the baby. Your baby can be delivered underwater, or you can get out of the water and deliver it in another position.
A water birth is not appropriate if you have herpes , since it can be transmitted through the water; if your baby is in the breech position, if you have excessive bleeding, an infection, or high blood pressure or if you are in preterm labor.
Your birthing experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life which is why it is so important to prepare and plan as much as you can before your miraculous life-giving event.
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