Saturday, November 3, 2012

St. George Magazine Article December 2011

Options and Benefits abound for Mothers Wanting a Natural Childbirth Experience in Southern Utah

            In conversations with elderly women, I have been surprised to find that while some couldn't remember what they had eaten for breakfast that day, all had detailed memories of the births of their children, both the treasured parts and more difficult parts.  The experience of giving birth profoundly impacts a woman forever.  Many women had little choice in their birth experiences.  Either they gave birth before the advent of modern anesthesia techniques, or gave birth during the time of “twilight sleep birth” when women were given pain medication that rendered them unconscious or into such a trance that they would not remember what they went through to birth their babies.
            In the modern world, women have more options.  They can choose a “natural birth,” without any type of medication to start, stop, or numb the pain of labor, or an epidural, anesthesia placed in the epidural space in the woman’s spinal column, causing a cessation of pain below her waist. Epidurals can be a lifesaver for women who need cesarean sections and a very useful tool for those with long or drawn out labors.  However, natural childbirth offers tremendous benefits for the laboring woman and her baby:
·         Reduced chance of cesarean section
·         Easier time breastfeeding
·         Increased bonding between mother and infant and less separation
·         Increased participation by the mothers partner in the birth experience
·         Increased maternal sense of accomplishment
Natural childbirth also helps avoid many side effects that can occur from epidurals:
·         Reduced maternal blood pressure and fetal heart rate
·         Labor slowing, leading to additional medication to augment labor
·         Increased maternal temperature
·         Difficulty pushing
·         Increased likelihood of having a cut made (episiotomy) to birth the baby
·         Increased need for forceps or vacuum extractor to birth the baby
·         Increased cesarean section rate
·         Increase in infant hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
·         Increased chance of baby having to spend time in the nursery
·         Maternal anesthesia headaches (“epidural headache”)
·         Increased incidence of postpartum maternal back pain and paralysis

            While a natural birth is not the only road to a positive birth experience in Southern Utah, it is easiest to have a positive natural birth with some preparation.  Here are some local options to help women achieve that goal. 

Natural Childbirth Classes
Understanding the birth process makes it easier to cope with labor.  Classes are offered by the hospital and by other trained instructors. There are different approaches to childbirth education, make sure your class is focused on natural childbirth. 

Doula Services
A doula is a trained professional birth coach.  They provide support to the laboring mother and her partner by providing information, massage, changing of positions, relaxation support and other techniques to help ease the pain of labor.

Careful Selection of a Care Provider
Several local obstetricians, family doctors, and hospital based certified nurse midwives support and encourage natural birth. Shop around. You are paying your provider for a service: choose someone who supports your wishes while safeguarding your health and your baby's. 

Out-of-Hospital Birth Options
Southern Utah has one of the highest homebirth rates in the nation. Many trained and qualified homebirth midwives serve the women in the area, providing wonderful, safe experiences for both the mother and baby. The benefits of homebirth include:
ñ  Midwives are trained professionals who know normal birth and how to handle complications and have good relationships with the hospital if it becomes safer for you to birth there
ñ  One on one attention
ñ  Birthing in the comfort of your own home with water birth as an option
ñ  A clean environment, free of many of the “super bugs” that reside at hospitals
There are also out-of-hospital birth suites available in both St. George and Cedar City.   Birth suites provide the benefits and resources of homebirth outside your home if you aren't comfortable birthing there. 

More and more Southern Utah women everyday are realizing the benefits of choosing a natural birth for themselves and their children. The right tools can make all the difference and change a potential frightening and overwhelming experience to one that is treasured.

DyAnna Gordon, BS, is a Southern Utah native, mother of 4, doula, childbirth educator, birth trauma support group facilitator and traditional midwife at Complete Beginnings Childbirth Services

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