Women have many different care options for how they would like the labour and birth of their baby to unfold, such as the use of hypnosis, a home birth or a water birth. But you must discuss all care options in-depth with your GP or midwife. If you do decide on an alternative method, make sure to pick a care option you feel extremely comfortable with and trust.
Hypnosis for birth has been reported to help the mum-to-be stay focused and relaxed during labour. Other benefits of this option are said to include less fear of labour, shorter labour, less need for pain medications, a greater feeling of control and a faster recovery. It involves learning self-hypnosis techniques to trigger instant relaxation and using CDs to reinforce these methods. Hypnosis can be used in both home and hospital births and has benefits for all mums, even if they are high risk or having a planned Caesarean.
Most hypnosis for birth courses are for both the mother and the birth partner, who is taught hypnosis techniques to help focus the mum in labour. This has the added bonus of providing a role for your partner which helps them to feel more involved. Most hypnosis for birth courses start at around 20 weeks and involve weekend workshops or five weekly classes which adds up to about 20 hours of instruction.
Home births allow you to have the experience of giving birth in familiar surroundings which may help to relax you. Your partner and any other children you may have can also be involved if you so wish. It also allows you the freedom to move around during labour and birth, there are very few routine interventions and there is no exposure to hospital super bugs. Research done over the past 20 years shows that it is a safe option for women with normal pregnancies, but it is suggested that it is not an ideal option for a first birth.
A home birth is only available to women who have a low risk pregnancy and have not previously had a Caesarean. You should talk to a health professional at an early stage of your pregnancy if this is an option you wish to pursue. If you decide that this is the plan for you, you will then need to find a SECM (Self Employed Community Midwife) that covers your area and is available around your due date. This can be a challenge as there are only a limited number of SECMs, although your own maternity hospital may offer the option of a home birth with their own community midwives.
An epidural is not available for a home birth so other methods of pain relief could be considered. It is also important to remember that while a pregnancy may be low risk at first, things can change antenatally and your midwife may need to discuss options, which could include a transfer to hospital and a delay in medical intervention. Most home births only take place after a normal pregnancy, with one baby in the head-down position.
A water birth can provide a relaxing birth with effective pain relief, an increased sense of privacy and a reduction in the need for intervention. Some hospitals, for example Cork Maternity Hospital, provide a special water pool as a method of natural pain relief during labour. However, water births are not suitable for all births. For it to be an option, it must be a low risk pregnancy that has reached at least 37 weeks with no obstetric complications. If you plan to hire a water pool for use in a home birth you should follow the advice of your professional caregiver at all times.
If you have previously had a Caesarean, it may be possible to have a vaginal birth this time. If you are interested in having a VBAC, learn as much as you can during the pregnancy. Consider going to antenatal classes designed for VBAC, which can prepare you both for the reality of labour and for a spontaneous labour.
While the majority of women deliver their baby without any complications, some women with complications – such as a low-lying placenta – who have a breech presentation, pre-eclampsia or very high blood pressure may need to have a Caesarean section.
If you are between ten days and two weeks over your due date, your doctor may discuss the option of inducing your labour.