If youíre pregnant, you're soon going to be giving birth at a very exciting time! We now know a lot more about the normal childbirth process than we did just a generation ago.
There are more childbirth options now than ever before: where youíll have your baby, who will provide maternity care, and how youíll cope with the labor pains.
It can also be quite a confusing time to have a baby. Some obstetric care practices that were once reserved only for complicated labor and birth are now used routinely, and this can hinder a womanís effort to experience a natural childbirth.
Here are 10 tips for a normal childbirth and a healthy baby from Lamaze International:
If problems arise, ask questions about the benefits and risks associated with any recommended intervention. Understand that occasionally labor and birth donít go quite as expected.
- Select a location that supports normal birth (a location where youíll be comfortable). This could be your home, in a birthing center, or your local hospital.
- Select a health care provider who encourages and supports the practices that are likely to lead to a normal birth. Many women have discovered that the typically excellent care provided by midwives includes more labor support and less intervention.
- You shouldn't request or agree to an induction of labor unless there's a compelling medical reason for doing so. Allowing your body to go into labor on its own is usually the most reliable sign that your baby is ready to be born.
Allow your labor to progress at its own pace and rhythm. Don't focus on the clock, and don't use Pitocin to hasten your labor without first having a medical reason for doing so.
- Plan to move around a bit during labor. You'll be more comfortable, your labor will progress more quickly and smoothly, and your baby will move easily through the birth canal if you stay upright and respond to the pain of your labor by altering your positions. Try straddling a chair, rocking, lunging, walking, and slow dancing.
- Who will be providing support during your labor and childbirth? Consider using a doula or other professional labor support person to give you, your partner, and anyone else who's with you continuous physical and emotional support.
- Request that your baby's heartbeat be monitored periodically instead of constantly so that cords, belts, or wires do not tie you to a machine or a specific place.
- Eat and drink as your body tells asks you to. Drinking lots of fluids during labor will give you energy and help prevent dehydration.
- Take advantage of nonpharmacologic pain management strategies. For most women, warm showers and baths provide powerful pain relief. Practice using massage, birth balls, hot and cold packs, focused breathing, aromatherapy, and other comfort measures learned in Lamaze childbirth classes.
- Don't give birth lying on your back! The upright positions, including sitting, squatting, and standing, as well as on all fours or your side are more comfortable, increase the effectiveness of your contractions, and enable you to work along with gravity.
Push when your body tells you to, and request that your support people give only quiet encouragement. Counting or "Cheerleading" is not recommended. Simply work along with your body's own rhythm and cues.
- Keep your baby with you after childbirth. Skin-to-skin contact helps keep your baby warm and regulates his/her breathing and heartbeat. Being in the same room allows you to get to know each other, and lets you recognize and respond to early feeding cues and get breastfeeding off to a good start.
If youíre involved in your care and childbirth decisions and have good labor support, you're much more likely to be satisfied with the birth, even if medical interventions are ultimately necessary.
About the author:
Lamaze International offers information on books and classes that support normal childbirth. Visit them at www.lamaze.org
for more information.
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