Now, more women prefer to give birth natural way

According to gynaecologists, natural birthing provides a host of benefits to both the mother and child, including quicker postpartum recovery.
Mothers who do not utilise potent pain drugs or surgical treatments usually recover faster and are more awake and active right after birth.
Mothers who do not utilise potent pain drugs or surgical treatments usually recover faster and are more awake and active right after birth.

NEW DELHI: In recent years, childbirth practices in the country have undergone a significant transformation, with an increasing number of women choosing natural birthing methods. This renewed interest highlights a growing desire among expectant mothers to reclaim control over their birthing experiences, prioritise holistic health, and reconnect with traditional practices passed down through generations. Capitalising on the trend, cities across the country are now witnessing a growth in the number of natural birthing centres, apart from hospitals offering this option, which provide delivery through various techniques including water birthing, ropes, acupuncture, among others.

What is natural birthing

Natural birthing is a method of vaginal birth without using analgesic or anaesthetic during labour and delivery process, said Dr Sireesha Reddy, senior consultant, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru. "Natural birthing is facilitated through deep breathing exercises, relaxing techniques, the use of water immersion to manage labour pain and excluding extensive medication. It’s helpful to have a spouse to support and a conducive environment to attain this form of delivery. Other factors that can help achieve natural birthing are active involvement of the mother and recognition of childbirth as a natural process and childbirth to bring about a positive experience. This approach can be practiced at home, birthing centres, or even a hospital depending on the mother’s preference and situation," she explained. However, doctors have cautioned that the mode of delivery should not be the only factor to decide if the delivery is normal, but must take into account the health of both the mother and baby.

Quicker recovery

According to gynaecologists, natural birthing provides a host of benefits to both the mother and child, including quicker postpartum recovery. "Avoiding interventions such as epidurals, inductions, and caesarean sections lowers the risk of complications and adverse effects. Mothers who do not utilise potent pain drugs or surgical treatments usually recover faster and are more awake and active right after birth. Techniques such as deep breathing, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture can give efficient pain treatment without the hazards associated with medications," said Reddy. Babies delivered naturally are less inclined to have respiratory difficulties and other issues that might come from medication or surgery. "Besides, when women take an active role in the delivery process and adopt natural methods, they report a more pleasant and positive experience," she added. This technique also allows for immediate skin-to-skin contact with the baby, promoting bonding, added Dr N Sapna Lulla, lead consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru.

Conditions apply

Although it provides a more positive experience, experts say not every expecting mother can opt for natural birthing. Doctors suggest that natural birthing is appropriate for pregnant women who satisfy specific characteristics and are classified as low-risk for delivering without complications. "Some of the conditions that qualify a woman for natural birthing include the fact that she has not developed complications during pregnancy, like hypertension, diabetes, or placenta previa. Furthermore, age, BMI and general health of the woman is assessed with a woman who is healthy and suitable for natural childbirth. Certain factors like diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could be significant and may need extra attention," Dr Reddy said.

The position of the foetus in the womb also determines whether natural birthing can be a feasible option. “The pregnancy should be full term and the vertex position (foetus's head) should be in a lower position in the maternal pelvis for ideal vaginal delivery,” said Dr Juhee Jain, director, obstetrics and gynaecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital, Delhi. She also pointed out unnecessary negativity around c-section during delivery. "There is an unnecessary hindrance towards caesarean delivery among the public which does not bear much logic. In the current era, where people struggle with lifestyle disorders, natural birthing cannot be considered as normal delivery. A normal delivery means both the mother and child are healthy, and should not be defined by the mode of delivery. Natural birthing has a very limited role in ensuring the health of both the mother and child."

Is it 100% safe?

While natural birthing aims to create a more comfortable and natural birthing experience, the methods can pose significant risks. “These practices may be safe, but a blanket approach cannot be used for this method,” said Dr Astha Dayal, lead consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.  “In obstetrics, a low-risk pregnancy may turn into a high risk case any time, and a medical intervention may be needed anytime. Natural birthing may have certain advantages in low risk pregnancies as they give positive birthing experience and some women don't prefer medication during labour and delivery. However, there are certain risks involved. For example, in water birthing, there are chances of water aspiration in the baby and infection if hygiene is not maintained,” she said.

It should be done only under medical supervision and in a hospital setup where any complication can be managed timely. Technically, epidural gives more comforting experience than natural birthing, however, risk assessment and personal preferences should guide the method.  "A gynaecologist and a team of professionals will monitor you and your baby throughout your labour journey. Safety is paramount, and the team will adapt as needed. If complications arise, trained medical practitioners are prepared to provide medication or interventions to ensure a healthy delivery for you and your baby," Dr Lulla said. As new centres are coming up by the day, Dr Jain raised concerns about the quality of staff at such centres and the medical supervision required during childbirth. "They are not trained to handle emergencies which can arise anytime. Besides, natural birthing is anyway risky in these setups since the patient doesn't want to be on medication. There is no way of foetus monitoring. One cannot measure the oxygen level of the baby. These are the challenges in such setups," she added.

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