Saturday, 1 October 2016

Alternative natural birth methods!

In a first of its kind, a baby has been born using the DNA of three people, through a procedure which is being hailed as a breakthrough in science. This procedure, which involves the transfer of mitochondria from parents, who are at the risk of transferring severe and life threatening genetic diseases to their children, has also courted controversy for the way in which it was carried out, on an experimental basis.
With the entire debate going on about surrogacy, and its legal and ethical issues, and with advancements in science which make concepts such as three-parent babies possible, birth, which is supposed to be one of nature’s biggest constant, has gone beyond the realm of being natural. And its not just conception, but the process of delivering babies is also becoming highly medical, where while unheard of in the olden times, many doctors and hospitals push for a C-section or a drug induced delivery, nowadays.
However, amidst all this is a small, but growing number of parents who are opting to go for alternative, and more natural methods to birthing, without any medical intervention.  We take a look at the different natural birthing techniques that people are opting for:
Water birthing: While in the mother’s womb, the baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid, through which it gets its nourishment and protection by cushioning it against potential blows to the mother’s abdomen. Hence, practitioners of water birthing argue that for the baby, water is the most natural environment. During water birth, and under the supervision of an obstetrician or a trained midwife, the mother enters a specially designed tub containing water, at the start of labour.  While some mothers proceed to deliver inside the tub, with the doctor/midwife keeping the baby face up as soon as it is delivered, some may decide to get out of the pool once they have dilated. This process is also known to be relaxing for the mother, promotes more efficient uterine contractions and also helps to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers. Many birthing centres, and some hospitals, also provide water birthing facilities to expectant mothers. However, the method has to be performed under the supervision of trained doctors/mid wives, and is not recommended for high risk pregnancies, breach births, preterm births and multiple births.
Home birthing: While this may seem like going back to the olden days, some couples today opt for giving birth at home. Again, home births are only possible if the pregnancy is risk free, and in the presence of qualified mid wives, and a doctor on stand by. In India, however, home births are discouraged, because of the lack of qualified mid wives, and the risks involved with the process. However, there are specialised birthing centres which send their qualified teams to the expectant mother’s place, to assist with the birthing process. On the positive side, it allows the would-be mother the ability to remain and relax in the comfort of her home, instead of a sterile hospital environment.
Hypnobirthing: Based on English obstetrician, Grantly Dick-Read’s 1944 manual titled, ‘Childbirth Without Fear’, Hypnobirthing is a process which helps women break away from the fear,tension and pain syndrome that kicks in when labour begins. In this technique, trained Hypno instructors teach women and their partners, relaxation, meditation and visualisation techniques, which allow the women to enter into a state of relaxation, and dispel all fear and tension. This helps make the process of delivery easier and reduces the need for medical intervention.
Lamaze Birthing technique: Yet another technique that is slowly gaining popularity in India is the Lamaze method of childbirth. Developed by the French obstetrician, Dr Fernand Lamaze in 1940, the technique aims to increase the mother’s confidence and preparedness for the process of labour, thereby reducing the need for medical intervention. An organisation called The Lamaze International Organisation provides certification courses for practitioners who teach the technique. Some hospitals also conduct Lamaze classes, providing parents-to-be with information about what to expect during and after delivery, basic exercise techniques, self-care, breastfeeding classes, breathing exercises during labour, etc. among other preparatory information.

The Bradley Method: Also called the Husband Coaching method, the Bradley Method focuses on encouraging mothers to understand their own bodies, and uses natural techniques such as breathing, nutrition, exercise, relaxation and education to prepare them for child birth. It also relies on training fathers to be partners in the child birth process. The method was devised by Dr Robert A Bradley in 1947 to reduce the need for medication during child birth.

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