Painless delivery and water birthing – the things you should know

What is Painless Delivery?

Painless delivery refers to the use of an epidural injection which is given by an anaesthesiologist trained in epidural injection for pain relief during labour. It is injected in the lower of back, and a plastic tube is placed through which drugs are released around the spinal cord. It is mostly injected only once when you are in active labour which means you are having at least three contractions in 10 minutes.

Epidural doesn’t always provide 100% pain relief, but it substantially reduces pain and sensations in the lower half of the body, especially below umbilicus. In early labour, pain can be managed using natural methods like warm showers, massages, and exercises.

Is it safe to take Epidural?

According to the doctors, epidurals are safe for the mother and baby, and it also provides relief from exhaustion and irritability. It helps women to relax and refocus on labour, but like any medical intervention, it can also cause unwanted side effects.

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Why should you avoid an Epidural?

Epidural has a numbing effect. You will not be able to walk around and be confined to your bed.

  • Your labour may be longer.
  • You may have difficulty urinating and need a catheter.
  • You may experience nausea and dizziness.
  • You may be at higher risk for a forceps or vacuum delivery.
  • It can fail to relieve the pain.

What are the Pros and Cons of Painless Delivery?

  • It helps a woman cope better with post-partum depression or exhaustion.
  • It relaxes the vaginal muscles and provides space for the baby to descend.
  • It decreases the blood pressure of the mother which is good because in natural labour, the mother has high BP and there are risks of the pressure reaching dangerously high levels and ending in a stroke.
  • It prevents damage that would otherwise occur to the pelvic muscles during a normal delivery.
  • It can fail completely to relieve the pain sensation and can be cumbersome.
  • It could cause a backache, dizziness or shivering.
  • A decrease in the mother’s blood pressure can lead to a slowing down of heartbeat rate in the baby.
  • There is a risk of experiencing severe headaches because of the fluid of the spine leaking.
  • In some cases, there are chances of irretrievable damage to the nerves.In some studies, it was suggested that babies born in a painless delivery procedure could be a little slow and may face breastfeeding problems.

Should you choose a Painless Delivery?

It is suggested to a pregnant woman to prepare for normal delivery by building their stamina, practicing labour exercises and breathing techniques and selecting a birth partner. You can cope well with labour pain without an epidural with the right support.

Water delivery

Water birth is childbirth that occurs in water. Proponents believe water birth results in a more relaxed, less painful experience  Critics argue that the safety of water birth has not been scientifically proven and that a wide range of adverse neonatal outcomes have been documented, including increased mother or child infections and the possibility of infant drowning. A 2018 Cochrane database of water immersion in the first stages of labor found evidence of fewer epidural and few side effects but insufficient information regarding giving birth

A moderate to weak level of evidence indicates that water immersion during the first stage of childbirth reduces the pain of labor. A 2018 Cochrane review found that immersion during the first stage of childbirth reduces the use of epidurals, however there is no clear evidence on the benefits of water immersion for the second stage of labor or full water birth. There is no evidence of increased adverse effects for immersion during the first or second stages of labor. There is not strong evidence that a water birth reduces tearing or perineal trauma.

Water birth may offer perineal support for a birthing mother, and some theorize that this may decrease the risk of tearing and reduce the use of episiotomy.

Dr.Ruchi Tandon, is a trained obstetrician and Gynecologist, with over 13 years experience in painless deliveries. She is available at leading South Delhi hospitals like Max Smart superspeciality hospital, Apollo hospitals for pregnancy management.

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