The number of childbirths by the Caesarean- or C-section has been rising in recent years.
The National Family Health Survey 2019-2021 found out that C-section births in India increased by 4.3 percent in the last five years – from 17.2 percent to 21.5 percent. In private health facilities, Caesarean births increased from 40.9 percent to 47.4 percent in 2015-16.
Recently, when Parul Sabherwal, 32, was expecting her baby, the first thing her mother told her was to not worry about labour pain as she would deliver via a C-section. Pregnant women, it appears, are either lacking support or encouragement to expect a natural birth of their child.
Dr Vimee Bindra, gynaecologist and co-founder of Endocrusaders, says that there are multiple variables which are responsible for increased caesarean rates.
- Continuous monitoring in the labour room increases the chances of a Caesarean.
- C-sections have become a safer option in terms of pain relief and antibiotics.
- Women are marrying late or delaying pregnancy, which after they reach 35 years, leads to Caesarean births.
- Obesity is another reason: A BMI above 25 can increase labour complications.
- Some women choose a C-section out of fear of labour pain.
A normal vaginal birth reduces a lot of risks and complications for both the mother and the child. Dr Bindra explains ways in which an expectant woman can increase her chances of giving a natural birth.
Start an exercise routine
Childbirth asks for energy and stamina, just as with long distance running. Consider the nine months of pregnancy as the preparatory phase for the marathon of childbirth.
Dr Bindra says that by exercising for 30 minutes every day, you increase your chances of natural birth. You should try to raise the heart rate at the cycling machine or go for a walk. Some stretching is equally important for the impending time to push kid.
“Go in for prenatal yoga sessions once or twice a week,” says Dr Bindra. Exercises may not be allowed for some women with medical or obstetric disorders; so, before exercising take the permission of your obstetrician.
Films and television series show the woman lying on the bed for delivery. But Dr Bindra says squatting is a better option because “You open your pelvis when you squat and help the baby to get into the birthing position with ease.”
The expectant mother can benefit by practising regularly to squat. It could be done by holding the doorknobs and holding the squat position for one to two minutes every day.
Learn to face contractions
This is a tough task but being able to relax in response to pain will help during childbirth. “The body’s mechanism is such that it stiffens during discomfort. When your muscles tighten due to the fear and agony, your muscles are constricted in the process of trying to push the baby out. And that hurts more,” Dr Bindra explains.
In this exercise, the expectant mother lies down on one side with a pillow between the knees. Her partner or family member applies pressure for a minute between her neck and shoulder. While the pressure is on, she needs to relax that muscle instead of stiffening it in pain.
Natural childbirth classes
In the popular American television serial FRIENDS, the main character Ross Taylor takes his former wife to Lamaze classes on birthing. Similarly, one should consider taking child birthing classes. Pre-natal education classes teach parents-to-be how labour and birth work. They teach how to handle contractions, how to get through labour, simple techniques like breathing, self-hypnosis and relaxation, which come in handy during birthing.
Pre-natal nutrition is important
A healthy mother means a healthy baby. She needs to keep her uterus strong and ready for labour by consuming foods that provide sufficient protein and energy. One can learn about the need for essential nutrition during pregnancy to understand why that extra care is needed for the child and the mother in those nine months.