Birth of Baby
As you draw closer to the day of your child’s birth, along with the excitement and apprehension of giving birth, there are many factors that you need to consider and prepare for.
Preparing for Birth
The nine months of gestation is most often focused on ensuring that you nurture your baby well and your baby, in turn, grows healthy. Although this is very important, you also need to prepare ahead for the birthing process.
- Learn about the entire process of birthing, so you know what to expect. Ask your doctor when and where you should go once your water breaks and labour starts.
- The process of giving birth naturally requires a lot of stamina and energy. Exercise keeps you fit and gives you the endurance that you require and prepares your body for the stress of childbirth. Kegel and squatting exercises are especially helpful in strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. While exercising, remember to keep yourself hydrated and not overdo any activity.
- It is important to follow a healthy diet. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day and eat food rich in nutrients such as folic acid, iron, calcium, protein and the right amount of calories.
- Speak to your doctor about vaginal and caesarean delivery, and discuss which of the two would be best for you. You can also decide on a water birth. Your doctor will be able to discuss the pros and cons of each of these.
- Labour can be painful. Discuss with your doctor about the various pain relief options. You can also follow alternate techniques such as relaxation, controlled breathing, massage therapy, acupressure, yoga and music therapy to reduce your pain or opt for pain medications such as an epidural injection.
- Decide on who will accompany and support you while giving birth.
- Pack your bag with the essentials for you and your newborn baby.
It is important to remember that however prepared you are, you cannot control timing of labour and delivery. You should be ready to act according to the situation and trust that your doctor will suggest the best way for a healthy and safe delivery.
Birthing can be of two types: vaginal or through caesarean section. Vaginal birth is the natural process of giving birth and is categorised into 3 stages.
- First stage:This stage is labour, and commences with the dilation and thinning of your cervix to allow your baby to travel down the birth canal. The dilation of your cervix is characterised by contractions, which can be mild to moderate, lasting for 30 to 90 seconds. A thick, stringy, blood-tinged liquid may discharge through the vagina. As time passes, the dilations become more rapid and the contractions stronger, at closer intervals, and lasting longer.
- Second stage: This stage is the birth of your baby and usually lastsfrom a few minutes up to several hours depending on your baby’s position. During this stage, your cervix is completely dilated and uterine contractions are frequent. With each contraction you are encouraged to push hard. After your baby’s head emerges, the rest of the body is delivered. The umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and the airway is cleared.
- Third stage:During this stage, the placenta, the organ that was nourishing your baby through pregnancy, is expelled. Gentle uterine massage can help in its release. Any remaining parts within the uterus are removed to prevent bleeding and infection.
Assisted Vaginal Birth
Assisted vaginal birth is a procedure in which specially designed instruments are used to aid a vaginal delivery. It is usually recommended if your baby is not moving through the birth canal despite pushing, there are problems with your baby’s wellbeing, or if you cannot or are advised against pushing during delivery. Two types of assisted vaginal birth include:
- Ventouse birth:A ventouse or vacuum extractor is an instrument that has a plastic or metal cup attached to a vacuum source. The cup is attached to your baby’s head by suction and your baby is gently pulled by your doctor when you have a contraction.
- Forceps birth:Forceps are large metal tongs or curved spoons placed around your baby’s head. With the help of these forceps, your doctor gently pulls and delivers your baby when you have a contraction.
As with any procedure, assisted vaginal birth may involve certain risks and complications which include bleeding, vaginal tears and blood clots in your legs and pelvis veins.
Vaginal birth after caesarean-section (VBAC)
Vaginal birth after caesarean-section (VBAC) is a procedure you may choose if you have delivered a baby by C-section previously and choose to give birth naturally through vaginal delivery. To determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure, your doctor will review the reports of your earlier C-section, ensure that the incision is low-transverse, and check for history of ruptures or scars from any previous surgery.
The advantages of a VBAC procedure include a faster recovery, shorter hospital stay and lower risk of infection. Since it is not a surgical procedure there is less need for a blood transfusion. However, as with any procedure, VBAC may be associated with the risk of uterine rupture leading to blood loss, and uterine infection.
Caesarean section, also known as C-section, is the delivery of a baby through an incision that your doctor makes on the abdomen and womb (uterus). A caesarean birth is recommended for the following reasons:
- Risks involved in a vaginal birth
- Multiple births (more than one baby)
- Large baby
- Problems with the position of your baby
- Problem in the cervix, resulting in failure of labour to progress
- Problem in the umbilical cord or placenta
- Baby shows signs of distress, such as slowed heart rate
- You have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Caesarean section is performed under general anaesthesia or regional anaesthesia, such as a spinal or epidural block. You doctor makes an incision in your abdomen which may be transverse (side-to-side) or vertical. Underlying muscles are separated. Another similar incision is made in the wall of the uterus. Your doctor delivers your baby through these incisions. The umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is removed. The incisions are then closed with stitches or staples.
As with any surgery, caesarean section may involve certain risks and complications, such as infection, blood clots in your legs, lungs or pelvic organs, blood loss, bladder or bowel injury, or side-effects of medicines or anaesthesia.