As you get closer and closer to your due date, and even long before that, you might begin to ask questions that help you make the big decisions about your delivery. There are an overwhelming number of opinions on the matter, but when it comes down to it, the decision is yours and you need to do what is best for your baby and for you. Every woman is unique, as is her pregnancy and delivery process. Here are some facts and suggestions that will help you make an informed decision about the big questions surrounding childbirth: how, where and with whom?
Medical Intervention vs. Natural Birth: Some women may not even have the option of a natural birth or maybe they choose not to, but some valiantly face childbirth determined to avoid any use of medication. A natural birth helps avoid unnecessary interventions and although every experience is different, many women say that they favor natural birth because they could feel more and therefore push more effectively. Natural birth techniques include the Alexander Technique (LINKS), the Bradley Method, hypnosis and Lamaze. According to Birth International, there is a chance that medical assistance like an epidural could slow the mother’s blood pressure, which can reduce the oxygen available to the baby. This can call for an emergency C-section.
Whether or not to induce labor is another decision women might have to make, which can call for medical intervention. It is highly encouraged to only induce when it is more dangerous for the baby to remain in the uterus than to be born, says the American Pregnancy Association. It’s okay to request an epidural or other form of pain medication. In fact, more than 50 percent of women request an epidural during labor. It reduces the pain while still allowing you to be alert during childbirth. The results of an epidural could be soreness, fever or headache, although none are lasting symptoms. Whether or not an epidural could affect your baby depends on variables like dosage, but effects can include difficulty breastfeeding or trouble getting into position for delivery. Discuss your options with your doctor and decide what you think is best. Be confident that you know your body and that your doctor will take care of both of you. Other medication options and how you can receive them are discussed on the American Pregnancy Association website to include nitrous oxide, opiates, Demerol and morphine.
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Home vs. Birthing Center vs. Hospital: Location could be a determining factor of other big decisions, or it could be a result of choosing one method over another. Most healthcare providers will deliver in hospitals. Even if you choose natural birth over drug-assisted, you might feel more comfortable knowing that in case of an emergency, you will have immediate access to medical intervention. As you make this decision, make sure you are familiar with the hospital’s policies from how many people can be in the room with you to what actions will be taken upon complications in delivery.
If you’ve had a C-section and want to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), make sure the hospital allows it and will have personnel available if you must have one. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might want your hospital to have a neonatal intensive care unit. A birthing center is a great option if you choose to have a midwife for your baby’s delivery. There, you will have more freedom as you journey through labor. Midwives also perform at-home deliveries. Having your baby at home allows you freedom of choice along with comfort. Make sure that if you choose to have your baby in the privacy of your home that you have emergency procedures in place and that everyone is educated about the extra responsibilities that come with home births.
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Obstetrician vs. Family Practitioner vs. Midwife: Whom you choose to help deliver your baby could depend heavily on where you labor. As you make these decisions, consider the options and remember that the choices are yours. Obstetricians specialize in pregnancy, labor and birth. Their educations have prepared them to detect issues with the female reproductive system and many women choose an obstetrician to deliver if they know they could potentially face a problem during childbirth. Family practitioners are another healthcare provider who will likely perform delivery in a hospital. If you are comfortable with your family doctor, you might have them perform delivery if you have a low-risk pregnancy. Midwives are certified nurses who have undergone additional training related to pregnancy and delivery. Their care is flexible and individualized, allowing for little to no medical intervention if that is the route you choose. They tend to care for low-risk pregnancies and will deliver in your home, birthing centers or hospitals.
As you make these big decisions that others might see as controversial, remember that the choice is yours to make based on what is best for your baby and for you. Pay no mind to the people who might criticize your decisions, because ultimately, you and your doctor can make an informed decisions tailored to your wishes. When all is said and done and you've made the final push, what matters is that you've delivered a healthy baby and ensured that he or she will have a healthy mommy.
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