The Lamaze International has determined six ways to keep a mother’s birth healthy and safe as possible. 1) Let labor begin on its own. There are cases in which labor needs to be induced for the safety of the mother and the baby. However, there are situations where labor is induced for convenience and the risks for induction are not taken under consideration. Risks can include chance of cesarean delivery, more labor pain, and health issues for the baby. Consider choosing a provider who is aware of these risks and does not induce labor unless medically necessary.
Another tip to consider is 2) Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor. The ability to move and change positions reduces pain and aids in the labor progress. Movement allows contractions to work more efficiently and gravity allows the baby to lower in position. Determine if your birth setting allows safe places for walking.
Having supportive company is important in the labor process. 3) Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support. Research has shown doulas (professional labor support companions) decreases need for an epidural, increases chances for a vaginal birth, and improves the experience for the woman and her partner.
As mentioned, 4) Avoid medical interventions that are not medically necessary. These interventions can include giving fluid through an IV, epidurals, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, speeding up labor with pitocin, breaking the bag of water, and episiotomy. Find a provider that is able to justify which procedures have benefits that outweighs the risks.
There are many positions that a woman can deliver birth that does not necessarily have to be on their back. 5) Avoid giving birth on your back, and follow your body’s urges to push. Positions such as standing, kneeling, squatting, or lying on the side in the second stage of labor allows gravity to assist in the baby’s descent and gives the pelvic bones more movement. Your body is sending you urges to push. Go with these urges rather than being told when to push. Do not hold your breath. Become comfortable with different positions and practice before labor. A provider may not give you the option to do any position aside from lying on your back. If that is the case, ask to put rolls of towels underneath your sit bones to elevate the pelvis. This will allow your sacrum and tailbone the space it needs to tilt to make room for the baby to descend.
Finally, 6) Keep your baby with you- It’s best for you, your baby, and breastfeeding. Skin contact allows the baby to breath easier, regulate temperature, and learn how to nurse. Babies who spend the night at the nursery cry more and have more difficulty with breastfeeding.
These are all suggestions for a healthy, safe birth. However, medical problems do arise that may warrant intervention and make these suggestions difficult to adhere to. Talk to your physician about a birthing plan and ask questions.
The Six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices. Happy Birth Way | Tampa Bay birth classes in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Manatee Counties. http://happybirthway.com/the-six-lamaze-healthy-birth-practices/. Published 2009. Accessed November 2, 2017.