Childbirth education in this country began in the 1970s as a grassroots movement, in order to give expectant parents information and support while giving birth. The movement grew out of the belief that mothers did not have to be medicated to give birth and that they could have someone they loved with them in the delivery room. Almost all expectant parents attended childbirth classes. Recently, prepared childbirth seems to have fallen out of practice, many young couples are choosing not to attend childbirth classes and come to the hospital not really knowing what to expect or they are underprepared for the experience. Just a few years ago this was not the case. Up until the mid-90s 84% of mothers and their spouses/partners/or birth coaches took childbirth classes prior to the birth of the baby. By 2012 this number had dropped to about 54%. Why do you think this trend has changed?
Now read about these different methods of childbirth and then comment in the discussion board on the one you or your partner would most like to experience (or have experienced) and why would you choose it also, why do you think more and more expectant parents are choosing not to attend childbirth classes?
The Lamaze method is typically known for controlled breathing techniques, but it includes a number of comfort strategies that can be used during labor. Breathing techniques increase relaxation and decrease the perception of pain. In addition to breathing, other information about preparing for childbirth is covered. Lamaze is taught in a series of classes attended by both the mother and her partner, when possible. The Lamaze method doesn’t explicitly encourage or discourage medications but seeks to educate women about their options so they can make a birth plan that suits their individual needs.
Benefits of the Lamaze Method
- Lamaze training prepares the mother and her partner with a number of tools to use to get through labor and delivery naturally.
- The breathing and relaxation techniques reduce the perception of pain and keep labor moving smoothly.
- The Lamaze courses help the couple be prepared with what to expect over the first few days and weeks together.
Disadvantages of the Lamaze Method
- Learning the Lamaze method takes time. The couple must plan ahead and attend classes starting in the second trimester of pregnancy.
The Bradley method focuses on preparing the mother for natural childbirth coached by her partner. The emphasis is on being prepared for an unassisted vaginal birth without medication. The method is taught over 12 weeks along with reading a workbook. Midwives often recommend the Bradley method preparation classes. In addition to learning ways to reduce the pain of vaginal birth, the method teaches about nutrition and other aspects of natural health.
Benefits of the Bradley Method
- The Bradley method is beneficial to prepare parents for unassisted births.
- It helps the couple be prepared with techniques to reduce the perception of pain and stay relaxed through natural unmedicated childbirth.
- It also teaches the couple about things they need to know to take care of themselves as new parents and what to expect when the infant arrives.
Disadvantages of the Bradley Method
For couples who are uncertain if they want to try for an unassisted vaginal birth without medication, the Bradley method might not be best. The course and training take quite a long time. Couples need to begin classes in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Only about 2% of women in the U.S. opt for a home birth. It can be a safe and relaxing natural childbirth delivery method for women with a normal, low-risk pregnancy. Home births are vaginal deliveries with no medication, and a variety of mind-body techniques and preparation methods are used to reduce childbirth pain. Usually, a licensed midwife or doula will assist in the birthing process and many times the couple will have family and/or close friends present at the birth.
Advantages of home birth
Many women find it relaxing and comforting to be in their own home environment. Other advantages include:
- Not having to worry about being transported to the hospital while in labor or being transported home after the baby’s birth
- Having a baby at home means having all of the comforts of home, including snacks and changes of clothing readily available.
- The recovery and transition to breastfeeding can be easy because the environment is comfortable and familiar.
- The mother can invite whomever she wants to attend the birth.
- Many women feel more comfortable with home birth if they need to yell or vocalize.
Disadvantages of home birth
- If special birthing assistance, such as a water birth tub, is desired, this will need to be brought to the home and prepared in advance.
- If the home is very remote or the weather is bad, it may be difficult for the midwife to reach the home in time (although it would be difficult to drive to the hospital in these same circumstances).
- If the birth plan does not progress normally, it may require transport to a hospital.
- Some women are not comfortable with home birth, and it is not a good option unless it is a low-risk pregnancy, and the mother prefers it.
UNMEDICATED BIRTH at home or in the hospital
Benefits of unmedicated delivery
- Infants born naturally tend to have fewer respiratory problems.
- Other benefits of an unmedicated delivery include a quicker recovery for the mother and avoidance of abdominal surgery and the associated risks that come with a C-section.
- Unmedicated childbirth has a lower rate of infection and a shorter hospital stay.
Disadvantages of unmedicated delivery
- The disadvantages of an unmedicated birth may include tearing of the perineum.
- Sometimes, a natural birth may not be recommended for medical reasons.
WATER BIRTH at home, birth center, or in the hospital
A water birth means the mother goes through some or all of the stages of childbirth in a portable tub similar to a hot tub. The baby can be delivered underwater or the mother can get out of the water and deliver in a different position. Women chose water births because it can be more relaxing, and less painful to be in the water. Birthing tubs can be brought into the home for a home birth, and they are often found in birthing centers. Some hospitals may have birthing tubs as well.
Benefits of water birth
- A water birth is thought to be less painful and more relaxed for many women. It allows the woman to move into a variety of positions that can feel more natural and less painful.
- The partner can also get into the tub with the mother to support the delivery.
Disadvantages of water birth
- Some critics say a water birth can increase the risk of infection, but as long as the water is fresh and clean, water births are not any riskier than non-water births.
- Unless the water birth takes place in a birth center with established tubs, there are logistics involved in setting up the tub and warming the water for a water birth.
- If the birth plan at home does not progress normally, it may require transport to a hospital
DELIVERY AT A BIRTH CENTER
Some people consider a birthing center delivery the best of both worlds. The setting is relaxing and home-like, and mind-body support options for childbirth pain such as hypnosis, water births, and doulas are readily available. Unassisted deliveries using these support techniques are the focus. The emphasis is on ensuring the mother has the birth experience she wants. All of the labor and delivery options we have discussed thus far are available in birthing centers except C-sections. Typically, women are transferred to the hospital (or to a different part of the facility if the birth center is within a hospital) if they require an unexpected C-section.
HOSPITAL BIRTH typically a medicated birth
Women giving birth in the hospital have most of the same options as home births, she has quicker access to surgical interventions if an emergency occurs. Women giving birth in a hospital or birth center have the option to attempt a vaginal delivery with or without medication.
Benefits of hospital delivery
The benefits of a hospital birth include
- ready access to emergency interventions such as a Cesarean section,
- advanced monitoring for high-risk pregnancies
- more pain-management options including epidural anesthesia.
Disadvantages of hospital delivery
- The risks of a hospital delivery can include a higher chance of unwanted intervention.
- Sometimes the hospital setting can lead to rushing through the stages of labor, resulting in a higher chance of incision of the perineum during childbirth, and requiring a Cesarean.
- Other risks of hospital childbirth (and any stay in the hospital) include a higher chance of infection.
Natural births are not always an option, and if a complication develops, women now have a number of options to assist them with a safe birth. Sometimes C-sections are planned in advance. The other assisted options discussed here typically apply in the case of unexpected complications.
C-SECTION in the hospital
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1/3 of births are delivered by C-section, although rates are highly variable by hospital and region.3 The World Health Organization (WHO) says the rate of Cesarean deliveries should be about 10%-15%; the higher level is because of both elective Cesareans and overuse in the U.S.4 A C-section involves a horizontal incision across the lower abdomen through which the infant is delivered. The typical hospital stay is three days after a Cesarean to ensure the incision is healing. Full recovery can take 8 weeks. One advantage of a C-section is that the delivery date can be planned ahead of time.