Methods of Basic Childbirth

By Briana Wright

Introduction

Are you an expecting parent? Are you thinking about starting a family? Regardless of if you are expecting your first child or your fifth; childbirth can be exciting, stressful and frightening. How you decide to bring your child(ren) into this world is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Most women see childbirth as a medical process that require the use of medical skill, technology and surveillance. Others see childbirth as a natural process and find highly unnatural and dangerous practices of some forms of medicine (Miller & Shriver, 2012). The purpose of this poster is to provide information, along with the pros and cons, about five different methods of childbirth.
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Hospital With Physician

This is the most popular type of birth. With a physician many medications are used. Some form of medication is used in more than 80 percent of U.S. births (Althaus & Wax, 2005). This is so women can cope with the process of childbirth without feeling too much pain or discomfort. During this type of birth, the mother falls into the typical hospital routine, including the use of a wheelchair, wearing a hospital gown, bed restriction, and being coached pushing while on her back (Miller & Shriver, 2012). However, hospitals are making efforts to have a more "homelike" feel along with a warmer environment.


Popular Medications

  • Analgesics: Drugs used to relieve pain and help the mother relax.
  • Anesthetics: Strong painkiller to block sensation.
  • Epidural Analgesia: Pain-relieving drug delivered through a catheter into a small space in the lower spine to target the pelvic area.


Pros

  • Labor pains are reduced.
  • Infants and mother are carefully monitored.
  • Help is close-by in the case of an emergency.

Cons

  • Medication can weaken contractions causing labor to be prolonged.
  • Chances of cesarean delivery increase.
  • Infants tend to have lower Apgar scores and have more issues due to medication.
  • Labor is often induced instead of occurring naturally.

Natural or Prepared Hospital Birth

This method is a popular method that is similar to a regular hospital birth. The major difference is that a natural birth is one without a heavy focus on medication. According to Laura E. Berk, a natural, or prepared, childbirth consists of a group of techniques with the purpose of reducing pain, medical intervention and ultimately making the process as rewarding an experience as possible (Berk, 2010, pg 99).



Natural childbirth programs of 3 things:

  • Classes: Learn about the birth process. This covers what your body is going through and what the baby goes through as well.
  • Techniques: This covers breathing and relaxation techniques to help ease the pain of contractions.
  • Labor Coach: This is a person who supports you physically, mentally and emotionally through the birthing process.


Pros

  • Can craft own birth plan.
  • Medicine free.
  • Babies tend to be more alert.
  • Mothers tend to feel like they have more control over their bodies and birthing process.
  • Doctors are near-by in case of an emergency.


Cons

Labor may last for a long time.

The process may be more painful due to lack of medication.

Cesarean Delivery

A cesarean delivery is commonly known as a C-section. This is a surgical birth where an incision is made in the mother's abdomen and the baby is lifted out of the uterus (Berk, 2010, pg. 101). C-sections are becoming increasingly common.


WHEN SHOULD THIS BE AN OPTION?

Typically cesareans are only recommended when one of the following emergencies occur:

  • Rh incompatibility.
  • Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus.
  • Presence of serious maternal illness or infection.
  • Some breech births.


Cons

  • There is an increased risk for the mother and infant if a natural birth occurs after a cesarean therefore, it is said "Once a cesarean, always a cesarean".
  • More recovery time required for mother and infant.
  • Increased risk for breathing difficulties in infant.
Empowered Health News | Increase In Cesarean Births

Homebirth with Midwife

Homebirths are a common practice across countries such as England, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In the U.S., the numbers are increasing but it is still a small percentage of the population. Homebirths are common across small communities, especially those religious based. Some Christian women interpret pregnancy and birth as an essential to the role of women and a purpose given by God (Miller & Shriver, 2012). Homebirths can be attended by doctors or by a certified nurse known as a midwife.


Midwives are very reliable. They obtain degrees in nursing and training in childbirth management.


Pros

  • You are in a warmer, more personal birth environment.
  • The mother can choose her birthing location and move freely during labor.
  • There are no limits of who can be present during labor.
  • If the mother is healthy and assisted by a well trained doctor or midwife then complications rarely occur.
  • There's a trained professional to assist you and ensure everything goes smoothly.
  • Cost less than the hospital.

Cons

  • If the midwife is not carefully trained and prepared to handle emergencies then the rate of infant death could be high.
  • Although midwives are found in every state; they may not be close to your area.
  • Not significantly covered by many insurance companies.

Homebirth Without Midwife

Some people choose to give birth without the assistance of a trained professional due to personal or religious beliefs. Many couples do a lot of research and are often assisted by family members or women in the community who have practice delivering. According to Miller & Shriver (2012), for this particular group of women and their families, the safest childbirths rely primarily on nature, rather than on the hands of doctors. Some people also believe that midwives may interfere with the natural process because the safest birth is one in which nature is allowed to take it's course.


Pros

  • Cost is less expensive.
  • The mother is in a warm, comforting environment.
  • The mother is in control of the birthing process.
  • If the mother is healthy and well educated, the chances of complications are low.


Cons

  • A doctor is not there in the case of an emergency.
  • Pain medication can not be provided.
  • Labor may last for a long time.
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Sources

Miller, A.C., & Shriver, T. E. (2012). Women's childbirth preferences and practices in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 75, 709 -716. http://0-dx.doi.org.library.acaweb.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.051


Berk, L. (2010). Development through the lifespan (5th ed). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.