The constant emphasis and obsession with the concept of time, in the modern world, pressurises women and often prevents them from surrendering to the process of child birth and their instinctive rhythms. On-going research may highlight the long term effects of induction and surgical intervention and the often unnecessary tampering of Mother Nature’s timing. Perhaps in modern western society, where natural birth is tragically on a steep decline, an honest evaluation of the benefits and down sides of both natural birth and a medicated birth could be encouraged as part of ante-natal preparation.
Some of the benefits of natural child birth are:
- Natural labour reduces the side effects of drugs which may include: A drop in maternal blood pressure (which can affect the baby’s blood supply), fever, sedation, the need for a urinary catheter, respiratory difficulties and post-partum haemorrhage.
- Without the use of an epidural, a woman experiences no paralysis in the lower body, enabling her to move freely.
- A drug free labour means there is no disruption in the hormonal balance which has an influence on the strength of contractions.
- Feeling ones reflexes enables better pushing.
- The management of the third stage of labour may be more sensitively monitored with slower cord clamping as this immediate procedure may cause depravation of the newborns’ blood volume.
- Endorphins secreted in natural birth have been found in the placenta and umbilical cord which helps baby readjust to the outside world.
- True mammalian bonding is heightened by an abundant flow of essential hormones. The babies are alert so the newborn shows pro-breastfeeding behaviour.
- Mothers experience a quicker and easier recovery.
Exposure to the dispelling of negative attitudes and listening to instinct, faith and internal knowledge may be helpful to women in making their choice of birth. The place of birth should be wisely chosen.
Provincial hospitals are where the vast majority of South African women have their babies. They cannot offer many luxuries and the staff follows strict policies of hospital procedure, but due to the high volume of deliveries they have a wealth of hands-on experience. Private hospital births offer a different experience with better facilities and the option of a private obstetrician who has followed a pregnancy and then does the birth him/herself. Along with the possibility of surgical intervention and use of drugs comes their enviable wisdom and expertise and tolerance to comply with their clients individual needs and choice of birth. A Birth Plan may be presented to the hospital prior to labour.
Some hospitals now allow the presence of a qualified Doula / birth assistant who may act as “mediator” of the birthing team/crew. Birth in water is still more connected to home birth, but as the demand increases hospital policies may change. For now, only labour is encouraged in the bath. The availability of a doctor or midwife to perform a home birth may be challenging to find depending on the remoteness of an area. In the cities the chances are higher than in rural areas.
Wherever the birth space may be it should be conducive to expressing ourselves without inhibition. A conscious decision before the birth is often so influential on the outcome of it.
Article by Louisa Schneor, Doula / Child birth assistant