Natural Childbirth

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It always amazes me how many movies and TV shows we watch showing someone giving birth. The women are generally looking either crazed or beautiful, hair in complete disarray or in a neat pony tail, feet up in the stirrups and yelling as loudly as possible at their partner. Supposedly, this is progress from the traditional where we’d see a dad passing out cigars in the waiting room looking anxious.

Natural Childbirth

For most of us the experience is somewhere in between, not quite so chaotic or as simple as visiting the bank teller machine for a baby withdraw. (And can you imagine anyone smoking in a hospital waiting room these days!?).

Pregnant couples of today must ask themselves “what would we like our birth experience to be?” There’s a range of options from the completely natural/no medical interventions, to the use of pain medications that you take either by mouth, injection into the muscle, injection into the vein, or injection into the spinal cord (epidural), to the option of a cesarean section. Ask yourselves how you feel about continuous fetal monitoring and episiotomies (where the area between the vaginal opening and anus, called the perineum, is cut to allow for easier delivery). Once you become knowledgeable on all these different terms and options you are well on your way to creating a birth plan. A birth plan being a simple set of wishes or guidelines on how a couple sees the birth of their baby taking place, with the couple playing the starring roles.

Looking for a doctor for your birth option questions? We recommend:
Pikul ArsirawechNisarat Kasatri, M.D.
OB/GYN, Samitivej Hospital
Questions about your pregnancy, child birth or life with an infant? Ask the Doctor!

But before getting into the specifics of a birthing plan, please talk to your obstetrician. If your pregnancy is considered high risk it may limit your delivery options.

Besides a mom’s health history and present health condition, many factors can influence how you may want to give birth. In some cultures moms are more apt to choose natural childbirth and others are more likely to choose a cesarean section. Likewise, treating physicians will have preferences. When I did my rotation as a nursing student in Canada (don’t ask how long ago this was please) a nurse joked that one doctor preferred vacuum delivery’s (where suction is applied the baby’s head to allow it to be gently pulled out) if he thought he might miss dinner. I’m sure this was an exaggeration, but I am also sure there was a shred of truth there; that this physician was known to intervene in the birthing process more so than others. Therefore it’s a good idea to talk to your obstetrician before delivery to make sure you both see eye to eye.

So let’s say you are hoping for a natural childbirth – great! Natural childbirth encourages couples to use non-medical method(s) in response to how moms feel during the birthing process. It promotes a sense of control and empowerment, connection to the experience, knowledge that they will not be receiving any/limited medications that may cause side effects to the mom or baby, and let’s be honest natural childbirth gives great bragging rights and a good story for years to come!

Every woman will say they were in different amounts of pain while they were giving birth. I have one friend who delivered her first baby in 6 hours, said there was minimal pain, and was back in her old jeans after two months. (Please feel free to hate her a little bit). This is not every woman’s experience! Therefore, if you are thinking of natural childbirth, consider how you will try to work through the pain. The nurses at Samitivej Hospital really do everything they can to support moms through labor using non-medical techniques. The methods they use to promote comfort during delivery include:

  • Massage as it helps as a distraction, eases tension, and reduces cramps
  • Changing positions such as using birth balls, walking, and squatting
  • Concentrating on something else such as different breathing patterns, a focal point, or using visual imagery
  • Warm or cold baths
  • Calming music
  • Aromatherapy

Taking prenatal classes is a fantastic way to prepare for delivery and caring for a new baby. Menna is a midwife at Samitivej Hospital who runs English and Thai prenatal classes that are wonderful. I consistently get positive feedback from couples who have taken her classes.

Once you have completed your birth plan, go over it with your obstetrician to make sure he or she is open and supportive of your plan. Take a tour of the birthing rooms if possible. See what the environment is like, do they have birthing balls or tubs, and is aromatherapy available. Samitivej Hospital has excellent facilities, the obstetricians are knowledgeable and supportive, and nurses are very experienced in the various methods used to promote natural childbirth. Moreover, should complications occur, the birthing rooms are immediately connected to the operating room to allow for the safest and fastest possible c-section.

Keep in mind that a birth plan is still ONLY a plan. If complications occur and medical intervention is needed (i.e. there is a risk to you or your babys health) it’s time to scrap the plan. The import thing is that you and the baby are as given every opportunity available for a safe birth and recovery.

It’s normal for your wishes and birth plan to change during pregnancy. I know towards the end of my pregnancies I just wanted the baby’s out! You may even change your mind during delivery, deciding that you now want pain medication. That’s all ok! Moms are allowed to change their minds, especially if it enables them to be more emotionally and mentally present during the birth. Natural childbirth is not for everyone and certainly not every situation. Samitivej Hospital is proud to be recognized by the World Health Organization for its work in promoting natural childbirth, but treatment recommendations must always that take into account each woman’s individual needs.

The birth of my two children was a beautiful experience that my husband and I will never forget. It wasn’t chaotic or simple but somewhere in between. I wish you all happy and healthy birthing experiences of your own. Shape and enjoy this starring role as you bring a new person into the world.

References

Lothian, J. (2000). Why Natural Childbirth. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595040/

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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