safe motherhood


When the time comes to have your baby, you have a number of choices:

You might choose home to give birth at home if:

• you think you will feel more at ease there
• you do not want an epidural
• you want to be certain of having a midwife with you through your labour
• you don't want to leave other children
• you want to give yourself the best chance of a vaginal delivery.

You might choose a birth centre or midwifery unit if:

• you prefer not to see doctors
• you want a homely atmosphere
• you would like to be with other women.

You might choose hospital if:

• you or your baby have medical problems
• you want an epidural
• you feel comforted by technology.
• you would like some time away from the family in order to focus on your baby.

Pain in labour

There are a range of options:

• self-help methods that enable you to manage the pain and reduce your perception of it. These include positions, breathing, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, warm water and TENS
• drug-based methods that relax you - and so reduce your perception of pain. These include Entonox, pethidine and diamorphine
• methods that block the pain messages from reaching your brain - eg. epidural anaesthetics.

You can give birth

• standing
• squatting
• on all-fours (good for a breech birth)
• lying on your side
• half-sitting
• in the water
• on the floor
• on a bed.

You can let your labour start on its own or (if you are going overdue) use natural induction methods, such as sex (see induced/accelerated labour). You might leave your waters to break on their own or your midwife might break them for you.

You may want to pick your baby up yourself after birth or you might prefer the midwife to wrap your baby up and give her to you.

You will need interventions if you have certain medical conditions such as pre-eclampsia or placenta praevia.

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