Having a baby can
be one of the best days of a woman’s life. It can also be one of the hardest.
It’s not called “labor” without good reason. There are many ways to prepare for
childbirth and many offer the prospect of decreased pain and a better experience.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about new methods of childbirth preparation that
hold significant promise for a relaxing and tolerable birth. It sounds so
perfect. Yet many of my obstetrical colleagues seem unexcited when we discuss
prepared childbirth. So I did a little probing to see what could possibly be so
bad about a prepared patient with well controlled pain. Here's what I found.
does medical intervention do for childbirth?
Many babies have
been delivered safely through the years with little or no medical intervention.
The problem, of course, is that when things go wrong, they go terribly wrong
very quickly. In this situation, quick medical intervention can be the
difference between a happy, healthy baby with a well mother and a dead or
severely affected baby with a dead or severely affected mother. So the medical community feels strongly about
the ability to rapidly intervene if necessary.
childbirth preparation prevent medical intervention?
preparation simply teaches a woman what to expect in labor and methods to relax
through labor so that childbirth may be a positive happy experience. There is
nothing about childbirth preparation like Lamaze, the Bradley Method, or
Hypnobirthing that should prevent necessary medical care.
what’s the debate?
What I found from
colleagues was a litany of complaints about how the interpretation of some
methods of preparation interfered with necessary medical interventions and put
the patient and their baby at risk. The problem arises when the patient and the
medical staff disagree about how much or what type of medical intervention is
necessary. Expectations of childbirth differ wildly from patient to patient and
provider to provider.
can be done to ease the tension and ensure a pleasant birth for all involved?
As a delivering
mother, it is extremely important that your expectations are discussed and
agreed upon well prior to labor. Make sure that the place that you are planning
to deliver also agrees with your expectations. You may have to change providers
to meet your needs or you may choose to alter some of your expectations
depending on what you decide is most important. Most importantly, if something
changes, be sure to be flexible with realistic expectations. The experience
should never override the primary purpose of having a healthy baby with a