Vaginal delivery is the most natural form of giving birth for normal, healthy pregnant women. However, with the increase of technology and modern medical practices, things have changed. For instance, most deliveries now take place in a hospital and are facilitated with technological means. More and more Caesarian sections are being performed. The goal has been to make labour and delivery safer and comfortable for both mother and child.
Also new birthing techniques have been brought into play. But how safe are they in reality?
A modern take on the old fashioned vaginal delivery at home are centers where vaginal delivery with minimal intervention is encouraged. You can even opt for a water birth, where you sit in a tub of warm water during labor and deliver the baby. The midwife brings the baby up for air immediately. It is believed that as the baby floats in amniotic fluid during pregnancy being delivered in water is safer and more comforting to the baby. It is also easier on the mother.
Such nursing homes offer only minimal medical support.
A cesarean section or C-section is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus. It is usually an emergency procedure. In certain cases where complications are expected it can be scheduled in advance.
Since this is a major, abdominal surgical procedure, obviously all the risks attending any surgery under general anaesthesia prevail. Recovery and hospital stay is longer with the chances of attending infections. When either mother's or baby's life is at risk it is well worth to undergo a C-section. However, a scheduled C-section just to by pass a vaginal delivery is to be deplored.
An episiotomy is a surgical incision which is made in the skin between the vagina and the anus to facilitate delivery. Having an episiotomy means more bleeding, more pain, more permanent deformity of the vagina, and more painful sexual intercourse for months, or even years.
An epidural spinal block is given to reduce the pain of labor. However, one in four women, given an epidural block will get a complication which may include death. There are also chances of temporary neurological problems, such as paralysis in the woman and severe back-ache even a year later. The risk of infection especially in the urinary system is increased as the patient will be put on a catheter. Also further intervention such as forceps delivery or C-section may be required.
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Dr. Neera was a busy private practitioner after completing her medical degree, treating mainly women. This gave her an insight into the personal lives of women who had such a bearing on their physical and emotional wellness. She believes that we have to treat women in a holistic manner and not limit ourselves to treating medical ailments. Dr. Neera is not an active doctor now but continues to be concerned with women’s well being who strive to own their bodies and lives through education, knowledge and self awareness.