Women can also choose what type of health care provider they would like to deliver their baby. An obstetrician-gynecologist (OB) is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of pregnant women and in delivering babies. Obstetricians also have special training in surgery so they are capable of doing episiotomies and cesarean sections. Women who have health problems or pregnancy complications should see an obstetrician.
A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and a certified professional midwife (CPM) specialize in prenatal care, labor, and delivery. Both can be a good option for healthy women at low-risk for problems during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. A CNM does not need experience delivering babies in home settings and most practice in hospitals and birth centers. A CPM is required to have experience delivering babies in home settings because most practice in homes and birthing centers. Both should have a back-up arrangement with an obstetrician in case of a problem or emergency.
Some women also choose to have a doula assist with labor and delivery. A doula is a professional labor coach who gives physical and emotional support to women during labor and delivery. They offer advice on breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. Doulas also give continuous emotional support and comfort to women and their partners during labor and birth. Doulas and midwives often work together during a woman’s labor. Check with your health insurance company to find out if they will cover the cost of a doula. When choosing a doula, find out if she is certified by Doulas of North America (DONA) or a comparable group.
- Virtually all women worry about how they will cope with
the pain of labor and delivery. Childbirth is different for everyone. So no one can predict how you will feel. The amount of pain a woman feels during labor depends partly on the size and position of her baby, the size of her pelvis, her emotions, and the strength of the contractions.Many women choose to deliver their babies without using medicine for pain relief. Some of these women use other techniques to help them cope. Things women do to ease the pain include:
- use breathing and relaxation techniques
- take warm showers or baths
- receive massages
- have the supportive care or a loved one, nurse, or doula
- find comfortable positions while in labor (stand, crouch, sit, walk, etc)
- use a labor ball
- listen to music
- Building a positive outlook on childbirth and managing fear may also help some women cope with the pain. It is important to realize that labor pain is not like pain due to illness or injury. Instead, it is caused by contractions of the uterus that are pushing your baby down and out of the birth canal. In other words, labor pain has a purpose.
Try the following to help you feel positive about childbirth:
- Take a childbirth class. Call the doctor, midwife, hospital or birthing center for class information.
- Get information from your doctor or midwife. Write down your questions and talk about them at your regular visits.
- Share your fears and emotions with friends, family and your partner.
More and more women in the United States are using water to find comfort during labor and delivery. In waterbirthing, laboring women get into a tub of water that is between 90 and 100 degrees. Some women get out of the tub to give birth. Others remain in the water for delivery.
The water helps women feel physically supported. It also keeps them warm and relaxed. This eases the pain of labor and delivery for many women. Plus, it is easier for laboring women to move and find comfortable positions in the water.
Waterbirthing is relatively new in this country. So there is very little research on its benefits. Even so, some women say giving birth in the water is faster and easier. Plus, women may tear less severely and need fewer episiotomies in the water.
Waterbirthing may be gentler for your baby too. It may ease the baby’s transition from the womb to the new world. The baby is born into an environment that is similar to the womb. Plus, the water dulls the lights, sound and feel of the new world. Once the baby is born, it is brought to the surface of the water and wrapped in blankets.
Ask your doctor or midwife if you are a good candidate for waterbirthing. Water birth is not safe for women or babies who have health issues.