While the “on your back, epidural-numbed” labor has long been popular, we’re hearing from more and more women who are opting for less conventional birth methods and pain control techniques. If you’ve been wondering alternative birth methods to welcome your baby, here are few ways you might want to consider:
Ever thought of delivering baby in a Jacuzzi? With a water birth, you progress through labor in a waist-deep pool of clean, warm (around body temperature) water. You can also do a water delivery at a birthing center or even rent a pool for your own living room! This birthing method in India is now becoming very popular.
The big benefit: Hanging out in a birthing pool during the first stage of labor (when the cervix is dilating but hasn’t reached 10 centimeters yet) has been known to greatly decrease a woman’s chances of screaming for an epidural. Some women choose to hop out of the bath once they’ve dilated, but with a true “water birth,” you stay in the tub until baby is out and swimming along with you. (The doctor/midwife/doula brings baby’s face up into the air right away.) Fans of water birth say it makes natural childbirth easier on Mom, and the transition to the outside world easier on baby. Read more about water birth here
A home birth is just what it sounds like—giving birth at home. This option isn’t super common in the India (roughly 99 percent of births still take place in a hospital), but home birth stories are popping up all over the media these days. Celebs like Cindy Crawford,Julianne Moore, Alanis Morissette, Demi Moore all skipped the hospital to labor at home and we now hear Kate Middleton, is planning to give birth to her third baby at home next Spring!Most doctors aren’t into this—they warn of the dangers involved with giving birth outside the reach of a hospital’s emergency care. Others, however, argue that home births are actually the safer route, since they say forgoing the hospital protects a woman from unnecessary drugs and episiotomies and remaining in a comfortable, relaxed environment helps the birth go smoothly—just as nature intended. As Line Duncan (a hypno-birthing practitioner) states, “The idea is not to put down hospital birth because it can be a life saver and it is true that high risk births have become less dangerous thanks to access to medical care,” she said. “But there tend to be a lot of interventions such as induction of labour, caesarean sections and instrumental deliveries that are done far more often than is healthy or needed or safe for women and their babies.”
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese method of stimulating points on the body (usually with strategically placed thin needles) to help balance the natural flow of energy (or qi). What does this have to do with delivering a baby? Well, certain studies have shown that the needles may make labor easier. In one study, patients receiving acupuncture were 50 percent less likely to ask for an epidural; in another, the treatment was effective in inducing labor in women whose water had already broken. And here’s one more interesting factoid: Some say acupuncture can help turn breech babies too.
Hypnosis advocates give several explanations of how the process works. One theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes muscles to tighten and interferes with the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind to expect a safe, gentle birth, they say, women can avoid going into the fight-or-flight state, allowing for a smoother birth.
Women that have gone this route commonly allege that when they arrived at the hospital, nurses refused to believe they were in labor (until they had their internal exams, of course)!
Suzy Ashworth, a mum of three, is also a firm advocate of having a peaceful and empowering childbirth.Although she acknowledges some women do experience distressing and painful labours, she explains, “Attitudes towards birth vary from country to country. But the number of women who choose to birth at home or in midwifery-led birthing centres says women are fearful of giving birth. They don’t trust their bodies and often don’t believe that they’re ‘up to the job’.Which is sad.” She also adds, “For every thought, there is a corresponding chemical and physical response in the body. So if a woman is scared about anything, it starts an automatic chain of responses that involve releasing adrenaline (the chemical response) and the woman tensing up (the physical response).” If you’re skeptical, consider this: Recent studies show that self-hypnosis can reduce the need for pain meds in labor and make for more satisfied moms.
Giving birth can be a complicated process at the best of times. Hospitals can be alienating places if overworked doctors and nurses are unable to personally attend to mothers and that’s a key reason why unconventional birthing methods are slowly gaining popularity in India. However it is important that you speak with a trained midwife/ doula before considering an alternate method.
Have you considered an alternate birthing method?Share your experience in the comments below