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Childbirth is a beautiful thing whether it occurs naturally or through a cesarean birth. The trend in recent years has been for women to make childbirth as natural as possible. While this is not a bad thing in and of itself, it can put pressure on women to have a “picture perfect” childbirth when that is not always possible. Some women are able to have a medication-free delivery without any interference from medical professionals, however, this is an uncommon occurrence.

Historically, many women died during childbirth because complications arose and they did not have access to the necessary medical help. While this is rare in this age, it is still possible that a woman may need some form of medical intervention during labor and delivery. Medical interventions may be disappointing to mothers when they are not prepared for them ahead of time. Yes, it is important to have a birth plan and to know certain wants and needs for delivery, but it is also important to be informed of the actions that could be taken were a labor and delivery not to go as planned.

Common medical interventions during labor and delivery

Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) and IVs: Many women hope to labor freely without the need for IVs or monitors, but these are commonly required. While EFM is not necessarily an intervention, it may not be part of a “natural” birth plan as it requires a woman to be hooked up to a monitor for part or the entire labor and delivery. EFM is used to determine a baby’s heart rate. This tells the medical professionals how the baby is tolerating the labor and if the baby is in distress. The EFM can be attached externally via a belt around the abdomen of the mother or internally via a tiny attachment that is placed on the baby’s head. IV fluids are often needed to keep the mother hydrated or an IV attachment may be required in case the need for IV medication arises.

Pitocin or other induction methods: Pitocin is a synthetic hormone that is administered through an IV in order to stimulate contractions. Induction methods like Pitocin or a prostaglandin gel placed on the cervix may be used if the labor is not progressing as quickly as needed for the baby’s safety.

Episiotomy: An episiotomy is a surgical cut to the skin and muscles between the vagina and anus that is called the perineum. This allows the passage of the baby through the vaginal opening more quickly if pushing has come to a standstill or the baby is becoming distressed.

Forceps or a vacuum extraction: These methods are used to help the mother as she pushes by gently pulling on the baby from the outside.

Cesarean birth: As a last resort, a c-section may be necessary if the baby is in distress, not getting enough oxygen, the mother is not progressing even with Pitocin or the mother is in danger. This surgical intervention may not be part of the original birth plan, but it saves lives and is performed safely with a faster recovery than what was once possible.

Patients should ask questions about all possible interventions before a labor and delivery in order to prepare themselves for any situation. While it may not be your first choice, these medical interventions can save your life and your child’s life. Schedule an appointment with our office today to learn more about possible medical interventions like cesarean birth.