parenting q&a

This week, Natasha Niven, midwife and birthing expert, explains the pros and cons of water births, epidurals, and watching labour videos…

Q.) Is it really necessary to watch a birthing video before I give birth? A friend of mine has one she recommends but I’m too scared!

A.) In my opinion, watching birthing videos is a personal preference. Will it prepare you any more? Perhaps. Will it instill you with fear? Most definitely. The internet is terrible for portraying childbirth in a dramatic manner and scaremongering women, therefore, if you do decide to watch one, then ensure it’s from a credible source.

I think that attending pre-natal classes is the perfect way to introduce you to labour, birth and essentially parenthood. The classes explore the labour and the birthing process, and you will be able to gain an insight into what parenting entails. It is also a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow pregnant women and share pregnancy and labour anecdotes. Best of all, there is a potential to create new friendships.


Q.) It seems that more and more women are looking to have water births. I’d like to consider it, but how safe are they?

A.) Water births have become extremely desirable over the last few years. The majority of women report that water births, or immersion in water during labour, promotes relaxation and acts as an effective method of pain relief. There is no evidence to suggest it is dangerous. Several studies have proven that there are no significant behavioural differences between water born babies and non-water born babies. I must add, however, that many hospitals have a strict criteria for women able to have a water birth, therefore some women are unable to use the pool. Overall, they are very safe and, these days, more women are eager to experience either labour or birth in the water. If you get the opportunity, I say grab it with both hands!


Q.) Some women swear by epidurals, others hate them. I can’t make up my mind. What are the positives and negatives?

A.) Epidurals are wonderful things and not used only in Obstetrics. They are the creme de la creme in pharmacological pain relief. An epidural is able to leave you completely pain-free – if it works well! You will still be aware of the contractions however the painful element will be removed.

What’s not to like? Well, it does prohibit any mobilisation. You will be able to move your legs but you can’t walk. Having an epidural also results in more intensive monitoring of the fetus, which can leave you feeling very restricted. Some studies also suggest that it delays the process of labour and can have an impact on the final mode of delivery, as some women cannot feel the involuntary pushing sensation when it comes, which may lead to you needing an assisted birth.

Overall however, women report a high level of satisfaction after choosing an epidural as their final method of pain relief during labour.


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