From your second trimester onwards you will be bombarded with information about labor and birth. Most women naturally start to worry around this time and that’s totally normal.The best way to calm your nerves and ensure a smooth and problem-free labor is to learn as much as possible about the various childbirth techniques available.
Here we look at four of the main childbirth techniques and birthing classes available and give a round up of what you can expect from each type.
Understanding what is happening during labor will reduce your anxiety, and understanding the approaches of the different techniques will give you the choice to pick the one which suits you best. Many women also choose to attend birthing classes as their third trimester begins, and this is certainly something worth thinking about.
Here are some reasons for you to consider attending child birthing classes.
Birthing classes will:
- give you confidence in the power of your pregnant body and help you build that fierce warrior spirit prior to your labor
- help reduce your anxiety prior to labor
- provide information on pain relief and pain management strategies, which you can use when the time comes
- help you understand what is going on with your body and this also relieves anxiety
- give you the opportunity to ask questions and to talk with other pregnant women
- allow your partner or your birthing partner to understand more about what is going to happen from now until birthing and will help build their confidence. This in turn helps you, because it creates a confident helper in the delivery room
Birthing classes can also give you information on the different types of birthing techniques you can choose. The information will help you choose the technique you’d like to try when the time comes. These techniques can increase the chances of having a natural vaginal delivery as they teach you breathing and relaxation methods to reduce pain naturally, and also help you to stay calm during the process of birthing.
We should mention a birthing technique isn’t about the mechanics of actually giving birth – that is you either have a natural vaginal delivery, or you have an assisted delivery, e.g. forceps, vacuum extraction, or cesarean section.
A birthing technique is a way to relax and move your way through labor and birth using strategies to make the whole process easier and smoother. Your birthing partner should also be aware of the type of techniques you’re thinking of using so that they can help and guide you.
Let’s check out a few of the main techniques available so you can make your own decision and find out more via birthing classes during your last trimester.
1. The Lamaze Technique
This is one of the most commonly used techniques. It focuses almost entirely on giving birth in the most natural way possible without added intervention if at all possible. Having said that, using the Lamaze technique doesn’t discourage you from using pain relief if you require it.
Knowing the technique will give you all the information you need so you can make the best decisions for you. It is about giving you confidence in your ability to choose the right option for you and your baby. It is about having the smoothest labor you can possibly have.
Lamaze technique birthing classes give information about the following:
• a normal vaginal delivery and what happens at the point of birth
• the immediate postpartum period, e.g. placenta and cord cutting
• different birthing positions so you can choose a few to try during the event
• the art of massage during labor and other ways to relax naturally
• breathing techniques you can use during labor to reduce pain naturally but also conserve your energy needed for pushing during the active phase
• any medical intervention that may be necessary and what it entails so you won’t panic and you’re fully informed
• how to communicate effectively during labor, and how your birthing partner can communicate and support you
• information on breastfeeding
From that list you can see why the Lamaze technique is so popular. These classes cover literally everything you want to know about a natural vaginal delivery. The aim is to prepare you so you will be calmer and less likely to panic in the moment and cause undue stress to yourself and your baby.
Medical terms can sound terrifying when they’re communicated to you when you’re in the middle of labor, but most of them are actually quite simple in meaning. The Lamaze technique therefore gives you the information and background to make a natural birth not only possible, but more understandable and allow you to stay calm.
2. The Bradley Method
The Bradley Method helps your partner feel involved in the whole labor process while also providing physical and mental support. You might sometimes hear this called ‘husband-coached birth’. The fact that not every woman is supported by a husband during labor means the method is more likely to be called the Bradley Method.
The overall aim of the Bradley Method is for the women to try to give birth without any pain medication at all, and that the partner, usually thought to be the father of the child, will act as the birthing coach. This method also prepares you for any possible intervention which might be required in the event of an emergency, e.g. if a cesarean is needed due to a problem or baby’s distress.
Bradley Method birthing classes usually cover the following:
• why healthy eating and exercise is important during pregnancy and in the postnatal period
• pain management relaxation techniques, e.g. breathing and massage
• role play and rehearsals for labor
• techniques on how to avoid a Caesarean and information on what may happen if it is necessary
• what happens in the postpartum period and how to care for your baby in this immediate period
• information on breastfeeding
• guidance and information for the birthing partner to help support the woman during labor and delivery
The Bradley Method is a great choice for mothers who are very keen to deliver without any pain medication because it teaches natural ways to try to reduce pain. It is also a good way to help involve your partner more in the whole procedure by putting the responsibility of support upon them.
3. Alexander Technique
While the first two techniques are more about giving information and how to avoid pain medication if at all possible, the Alexander Technique is a more holistic approach. This technique teaches women how to improve their flexibility, balance, coordination, and overall movement during labor so they can move around freely when labor begins. It’s a little like yoga in some ways – you need to practice the methods given to you during these birthing classes to help improve flexibility and strengthen muscles.
The Alexander Technique focuses on:
• being comfortable during pregnancy because your muscles will be stronger and more flexible
• reducing pain during labor because you are more able to move around and change positions, as well as having stronger muscles for support
• being able to push effectively and stronger during delivery because you have strengthened your muscles beforehand
• recovery being faster and more effectively after delivery
• reducing discomfort during breastfeeding and general nursing
The Alexander Technique is ideal for women who are quite active in general, and who have been sports minded prior to becoming pregnant, or who enjoy a fit and healthy lifestyle. This method continues that ethos onwards into pregnancy and labor. As we mentioned, you need to practice the techniques given to you, otherwise it’s not really going to be a benefit to you during labor.
4. Hypno-Birthing/Mongan Method
Our final birthing method is called hypno-birthing, or you might still hear it called the Mongan Method. This method uses relaxation, breathing, and general natural methods to put you into a state of self-hypnosis.
The idea is that by doing this, you shouldn’t require pain medication, and you will be more able to achieve a completely natural birth as a result. As with the previous methods, a lot of practice needs to be put into this technique prior to labor in order to reap the results. It is a good option for women who are very keen on the birth being as natural as possible.
Hypno Birthing involves:
• education on everything related to natural birthing including natural pain management methods, breathing, massage, and visualization techniques
• learning how to self-hypnotize to deal with the pain and any worries or concerns you have during the labor and delivery process while remaining in a totally relaxed state
• information about parenting prior to birth (called pre-birth parenting), and the unborn baby’s consciousness
Hypno Birthing is gaining popularity, but it is still a method which many women find difficult to achieve simply because the art of becoming so relaxed that you can hypnotize yourself can be extremely difficult. If you are someone who meditates, or you are interested in deep relaxation methods, this could be a good method to consider.
In the Event of an Emergency
While no one wants to think about what might go wrong, we do need to highlight the fact that if your midwife or doctor decides you need to have an emergency cesarean, or another form of assisted delivery, you should heed their advice.
All of the techniques we have mentioned do their very best to prepare you for a birth which is as natural as possible. However, they all highlight the fact that not everything is guaranteed to go as planned. Preparations and decisions have to be considered should the unforeseen happen.
The best course of action is to think about the type, or types, of techniques you would like to try, and then book a birthing class to attend to learn more. The more information you gather, the more likely you are to feel connected to one particular technique.