Bringing a baby into this world is a long and arduous process. Pregnant women have a gestation period of over nine months, during which ample prenatal care is required. This includes proper diet, exercise, routine foetal and maternal health screenings and sufficient rest. The baby (or babies, if carrying multiple foetuses) is delivered at the end of this gestation period, although many babies are born prematurely too.
According to the National Health Portal’s 2010 data, 3.5 million babies out of the total of 27 million babies born in India each year are premature. Premature labour and childbirth cannot be planned ahead for but, usually, mothers can choose how to give birth to their babies. The following are some of the most common delivery methods.
- Vaginal delivery: If your baby is born through the birth canal or vagina, it’s known as vaginal or natural birth. This method comes with many benefits, especially since vaginally delivered babies have lower risks of infections and respiratory problems. In a few cases, the baby gets stuck in the canal or the mother gets exhausted during a long delivery, so a vacuum extraction method is used to assist the delivery of these babies.
- Caesarean delivery: In this type of delivery, local anesthesia is given and a surgical incision is made in the mother’s abdomen to extract the baby. Usually, C-sections are planned in advance if the baby is too large, you’re having twins (or more), the baby is breech, you have placenta praevia or an obstruction in your vagina. Premature babies can be delivered vaginally too but, in case of trauma or obstructions, a C-section might be performed to ensure the safety of both mother and child.
- Water birth: This is the type of vaginal birth which is done by immersing the pregnant woman in a birthing pool. Water birthing is an ancient practice followed by Egyptians, Greeks, Hawaiians and Maoris to reduce labour pain and difficulties naturally. A new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that water immersion during labour provides pain relief, less use of analgesics or epidurals, shorter labour times and increased patient satisfaction. This is also the reason why water births are now more popular in the US, as per the study. In India, water birth services are provided by many hospitals so that patient safety can be ensured.
- Vaginal birth after caesarean delivery: If your first baby was born via caesarean, does that rule out vaginal birth for your second pregnancy? Not if you opt for an assisted delivery plan where you can try a vaginal birthing even after having your first baby via C-section. However, this delivery plan has to be booked in advance to ensure the availability of anesthesia and C-section facilities in the hospital, in case the attempt at vaginal delivery does not go well.
- Scheduled induction birth: It might sound amazing but there are times when babies take their own sweet time in coming out. The scheduled induction birthing technique is for babies who are overdue. If you’re 39-40 weeks pregnant and labour still isn’t naturally occurring, then your obstetrician may discuss scheduled induction with you. This method involves the administration of medications that induce labour to deliver the baby and isn’t considered to be safe before 39 weeks of pregnancy.