Are you pregnant and planning on giving birth in Bangalore? Do you feel like you don’t have many choices when it comes to giving birth? Think again. Planning for a birth can be overwhelming, but you and your partner can get the support and information that can help you feel confident and ready to give birth.

Although it is impossible to predict what will happen when you give birth, here are some tips to help you become more informed and confident.

During pregnancy:

Choose a doctor and place of birth with low rates of intervention. Make sure your doctor and hospital are mother-friendly by asking the questions recommended by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), entitled “Having a Baby? Ten Questions to Ask.”  

Ask open-ended questions when interviewing a doctor, so you can better understand the doctor’s approach to the topic. Be aware that even the most well-intentioned doctors are dictated by hospital policies, for example – duration of labour and mandatory separation of newborn and mother immediately after birth. Be aware that doctors and hospitals with low intervention rates are more likely to share that information with you than those with high intervention rates.

Arrange for continuous labour support. Research shows that continuous labour support has positive outcomes for mothers and babies. See the section on labour support.

Find a good childbirth class. Find an independent childbirth class that is not associated with your doctor or hospital, so you have information on birth from multiple sources. Childbirth is an emotional experience, so make sure the class covers both physical and emotional aspects of birth. Don’t be afraid to ask what information is included in the classes before you register.

Devise a birth plan. While childbirth is unpredictable, you can still develop a birth plan to help ensure that your doctor knows what is important to you. You can include how you feel about routine interventions and policies in this plan. Share this plan with your doctor, so your choices are respected when you are giving birth. When you are in labour, bring a printed copy of the birth plan, signed by your doctor, to the hospital with you to remind you, hospital staff and your doctor of your choices for birth.

Browse through the Bangalore Birth Network – Maternal Care Survey. The Maternal Care Survey has been filled out by women who have given birth in Bangalore. Women have provided information on their birth experiences, including doctors, hospitals and use of interventions. Hard copies of the completed surveys are available at the Mother to Mother (M2M) group meetings, which are announced on the BBN Yahoo group.

During labour:

Work with your caregiver to delay going to the hospital in early labour. Delay going to the hospital in early labour. Once you arrive at the hospital, the clock starts ticking as the doctor may expect you to give birth within a certain timeframe. The later you go into the hospital, the more likely you are to have an intervention-free birth. Stay at home until you are in active labor (until your contractions are five minutes apart and are one minute in duration).

Ensure you have birth support during labour.

Explore your options for pain relief.  Epidurals and analgesics can increase your risk of caesarean section.  Tools such as tubs, showers, birthing balls, active movement during labour and continuous labour support can help you cope with labour pain and have no side effects. 

Avoid continuous foetal monitoring.  Evidence shows that use of continuous foetal monitoring increases the likelihood of a caesarean section, vacuum or forceps. Studies have shown that using continuous monitoring does not result in better outcomes for mother and baby.  

Avoid an epidural. Having an epidural reduces your freedom of movement during labour, increases your likelihood of tearing, increases the likelihood of a caesarean section, and increases the use of vacuum or forceps for delivery.   

Move around and be active throughout labor!  The best way to avoid an epidural and deal with labor pain naturally is to have continuous labour support and to remain active during your labour by changing positions and moving around. Try to avoid lying in bed on your back throughout your labour and delivery. This can make labor feel more painful. Active birth in early labor includes walking, slow dancing with your partner, sitting comfortably, rocking your hips, showering, lying on your side and being on your  hands and knees. Positions for the pushing stage include sitting, supported semi-sit, lying on your side, being on your hands and knees and squatting. Learn more about different positions in active birth and delivery.