Read more to find out what she has to say about Natural birthing techniques and methods...
Q. I want to prepare for a natural birth. How can I best do that?
It's mostly what you do for yourself that will help you. Are you taking good nutrition? Are you exercising? Are you stressed? Do you have any particular fears? It is good to start dealing with any stress or fears way before the time of giving birth because these things will affect you if they are ignored.
You also need to trust and feel comfortable with your care provider, as well as make sure that they will definitely be there at the birth. Check if they have any holiday booked around your due date and find out how many other hospitals they are working in and what happens if two of their clients or more are giving birth at the same time. It is rather disconcerting to have a stranger attend to you at that time!
In addition, it is a good idea to check out the place where you will actually be giving birth and find out what resources are there for you, such as privacy, hot water available for showers, a private bathroom, availability of a water tub/birthing pool, methods for monitoring and the protocols of the doctor/ place where you decide to give birth.
Collect relevant information and researched, evidence based care studies that back up your wishes and preferences for your birth.
Consider attending a Childbirth course that can provide information, facilitate a place to meet other parents to be and a place of discussion to sound of your ideas and questions. Take your main support (baby's dad or a close friend or family member) along to classes so you can go through everything together and help prepare for your birth.
Q. Would I benefit from the support of a midwife during my birth?
It depends on the other people in your support system and the place you choose to give birth.
Some people choose to give birth at home, in which case they will probably need the support of a midwife.
A midwife can also help monitor you and your baby should you want to stay at home longer before going to your chosen hospital/nursing home
Others may be birthing in a hospital or nursing home but may have family members that are nervous or concerned as to how they may react at that time.
Fear is not a good emotion to have in any birthing room as it can hinder the production of oxytocin and slow down and even stall the birthing process. In that case a midwife or a doula can give you that continuous support and help to be a guardian of your "space" so that the environment is low key, dimmed lights, quiet and you feel safe. This will help an instinctual birthing progress.
It is important that you believe in the process and that you have confidence yourself. It is also important to trust your main care provider: more often (in India) a doctor. However the doctor will not be with you the majority of the time so if you would prefer a continuous supportive model with encouragement and advocacy, then a midwife supporting you would be helpful. Having someone skilled by your side is reassuring and comforting.
Q. What about cord banking, Vaccines etc.?
That's a personal preference that only you and your family can make. In some countries, Cord Banking is a free service, only recommended in special cases with a family history of certain illnesses. In some countries it has been discontinued for several reasons.
Only you can make that decision. However, if banking, the cord does need to be clamped and cut almost immediately so that means the baby itself does not get the stem cells, which arguably may make the baby healthier and also the baby does not get that extra amount of blood that the pulsing cord (if placenta does not immediately detach) would naturally give to the baby. This (delayed cord clamping) increases the iron content of the baby and decreases the risk of anaemia. On the other side, the point of view is that the baby would have more red blood cells and possibly a higher amount of bilirubin to break down, potentially making the baby more jaundiced. So all these things are really your, the parents' decisions.
As for vaccines, you can wait a little while and you don't need to do them immediately if you are in doubt. There are some good books on this subject. Some well known doctors in this city do not advise to give the full number of vaccines if you are hesitant, but to give the main ones excluding BCG, as now the strains of TB are changing. Again, this is a personal preference and a worldwide subject of discussion and decision!
What are your own family traditions and beliefs? Are you, yourself vaccinated? Are you confident in the alternative treatments?
It is a good idea to discuss these things together during the pregnancy as both of you may come from different schools of thought and backgrounds so you need to come to a place of agreement.
There are some resources of these things in the Birth India library available in Bandra, Mumbai. www.birthindia.org
I have heard that in some countries, vaccines are 100% required by the schools so that is something to consider if you may be schooling your children somewhere like Singapore for example.
Q. Where can I have a waterbirth and is it safe?
Yes it's safe! If I was going to have a baby I would 100% use water! There are numerous benefits, yet as with any approach to birth, the best thing to do is to prepare yourself. The water in itself is not a magic power to make everything simple and easy!
There are several options now for waterbirth in some of the urban cities and other areas of India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Cochin. If you choose to give birth in your own home using water then, that can be anywhere! Some hospital locations may not yet be comfortable having the birth occur IN the water but just being able to labour in water will be so beneficial and more relaxing. Warm water has also been proved to speed up the process! It is a gentle approach due to the nature of the set up and appears to be a little more private and beautiful.
Q. Will I have enough milk to feed my baby and how can I avoid top up feeds?
Well, that's a big one! Mums from all around the world have this lie in their head and doubts that they won't have enough. Some cultures here in India believe that the great and nutritious first milk (colostrum) is poisonous and they express it and throw it out and give the baby water! Colostrum is full of nutrients and even has natural antibiotic ingredients to strengthen the baby's immune system right from the start. It lines the baby's stomach and the more the baby sucks, the more the mother produces.
Most babies do not need top up feeds,* just as most mothers do not NEED epidurals. Nowadays most hospitals are not trained as to how to support women through an un-medicated birth and they are not trained as to how to help mothers breastfeed with the support that is needed. Therefore it is much easier and more convenient to offer everyone an epidural and top feeds! After all who wants to hear a crying baby? (Avoiding top feeds can sometimes mean one night or one day when the baby may cry a bit more but you just need to offer the breast more and in most cases the baby will be satisfied)
The extra tears could even be a result from epidural exposure? There is so much to be researched with the effects of medications on the baby.
On a different note, if you prepare yourself as much as you can then you will be surprised how you can even enjoy your birthing experience. I have heard this from the lips of women who recently gave birth!
The same goes for breastfeeding. Good preparation is a good idea. Just watching some videos of Jack Newman on You Tube can help a lot and he also has a good Facebook page. If you "like" it you will get the news feeds.
A relaxed approach and feeding on demand is a good starting point. Sleep when the baby sleeps in the early days, keep yourself well-nourished, well-hydrated and as rested as possible and de-stress. As with birth, the quieter and undisturbed as possible, the birth will progress! The same goes for the postpartum time folks!
It's not cultural but if you are brave enough, close the doors and take a Babymoon! That means time with you and baby ALONE as an immediate family. Less visitors, lots of skin-to-skin time and gazing at your baby, cuddling him/her and the hormones will be working fine. Feeding on demand will increase your milk supply and the baby will soon find his or her own rhythm and create a pattern of feeding.
*If top up feeds are medically indicated then it is a good idea to follow that but on a short-term basis if possible. There are lactation consultants based in most big hospitals that can help you to come off the top feeds onto exclusive breastmilk. This is much better for the baby. La Leche League consultants are also available by phone. LLL India :http://www.llli.org/india.html
Having said all this, think of other mammals. They give birth in the wild on their own, without medications and usually without attendants or fear. As advanced as our world is growing sometimes it's good to go back to the basics and to the basic trust and strength of our own bodies. When we have grown our babies, then we can birth them and after birthing them we can feed them and watch them flourish and grow.