Numerous studies indicate that the benefits of Active Birth are:
- The natural rhythm and continuity of birth are not disrupted
- Uterine contractions are stronger, more regular and frequent
- Dilation of the cervix is more efficient
- More complete relaxation between contractions
- First and second stages of labour are shorter (some studies show up to 40% shorter)
- Greater comfort, less stress and pain and so less need for pain relief
- Less fetal distress and improved condition of the newborn
Women feel that they are fully participating, in control and more often experience giving birth as a positive, empowering experience
We are experienced in water births and enjoy providing care for women who choose this option. Many of our women choose to use one of our pools to labour and give birth in, around 70% However, some women choose to labour in water but want to get out to give birth. Whatever you choose to do we will be there to support you.
Using water enables you to move freely and adopt any position you feel like, aided by the buoyancy of the water. It is a marvellous relief for aching backs or for women who feel their contractions in their back. Our women have told us that they feel very safe and comforted by being in a cosy, warm, egg-shaped pool!
Feeling safe and relaxed means that the body then produces its own natural pain-relieving hormones called endorphins and thus the body is able to get on with producing other hormones which are vital to the process of labour and birth. The production of these hormones can be interrupted by fear, unnecessary interference with a labouring woman, bright lights or loud noise, in short, anything which makes the woman feel uncomfortable or unsafe. For this reason we are quiet and respectful at births, providing support and guidance as gently as possible. Having said that, we also have had clients who were very happy to have the TV on or play loud music during their labour and they gave birth just fine!
The baby is born underwater and gently brought to the surface either by you, your partner or the midwife. It is a very gentle way to be born and babies born this way rarely seem to cry at first and soon open their eyes to see what they can of their mother.
We also recommend birth balls which are useful both during pregnancy and during labour. They are very helpful for backache of pregnancy, providing gentle exercise and aiding mobility whilst you sit on one and gently rock or make small circular movements. They are very comfortable to sit on, providing support, but also with some “give” to the pelvis.
Another way to use one is to lean over it (bump permitting, of course!) almost hugging it and rocking back and forth. Women have said that they find this rhythmic movement comforting and a relief for an aching back, either in pregnancy or during labour.
If your partner is on a chair, they can hold the ball in place whilst you lean over it, head towards your partner, so that they can also massage your shoulders and back.
Leaning over the ball this way is also an excellent position for giving birth in, should you so choose. Many women, left to follow their instincts, will give birth on all-fours, either in water or on dry land. This position enables the pelvis to open to the widest diameters possible thus allowing the birth to proceed well.
The birthing stool has been used for millennia. Birthing chairs took the place of labouring mothers sitting on birth attendant’s laps, as it was the previous practice. The birthing chair can be traced to Egypt in the year 1450 B.C.E. Pictured on the walls of The Birth House at Luxor, Egypt, is an Egyptian queen giving birth on a stool.
We are very lucky in our birth centre to have the 21st century “BMW” of birthing stools made by Fibromed.
It is designed to help you maintain a physiological upright posture during childbirth. The birthing chair is intended to provide you with balance and support while giving birth in a squatting position supported by your birthing partner.
Delivery of the Placenta
There are two ways in which you can choose to deliver your placenta. The first is by the physiological method. Once the baby is born, the midwife will wait until the cord stops pulsating before clamping and cutting. You will then wait for a contraction and deliver the placenta by yourself. It can take up to one hour to deliver and you may have a slightly higher risk of bleeding. The other method is for you to be given an injection after the delivery of the baby, the midwife then waits for signs the placenta is ready to be delivered and will then proceed to deliver it. This can take around ten minutes. You may feel shivery or vomit after the injection but these side effects are quite rare. Your midwife will ask you which method you prefer.
Reducing the risk of Perineal Trauma
After the delivery of your placenta, the midwife will check to see if you have any tears and if you require stitches. The midwives are able to suture you on the Birth centre using local anesthetic which should provide adequate pain relief. However if you have a deep or extended tear you may have to transfer to the labour ward for suturing by a doctor, and an epidural may be necessary for pain relief. If you wish to reduce the risk of tearing, then perineal massage has been shown to be extremely effective in your first pregnancy. It must be started from 36 weeks and should be done every day. Please discuss this with your midwife if you have any questions about this.