With many expectant mothers planning for giving birth outside the hospital, some may not consider unexpected challenges in giving birth, even if previous births were successful without medical intervention. There is always a risk of complications during labor and delivery that may make you consider giving birth with an obstetrician.
The idea of being hooked up to monitors throughout the different phases of labor can be annoying for some women. Monitoring may limit your movements during labor. Some women find it is more comfortable to assume different positions as contractions become more painful, such as lying in different ways, walking around, or squatting. Moving around may help accelerate the process. The advantage of continual monitoring helps both mother and baby because the doctor can identify problems and make changes to the delivery plan. Some issues that could be problematic are when labor does not progress normally. A woman may experience frequent, strong contractions as though she were entering the final stages of labor, but the cervix may not be sufficiently dilated. Another concern is when the baby's heart rate drops. This can be a sign of distress and may warrant a cesarean section (or C-section).
Anticipating Birthing Complications
Monitoring and frequent pelvic exams throughout the birthing process can help your obstetrician anticipate a problem that might occur during delivery. Some issues that might arise are having a baby that is too large to pass through the cervix. Although the sonogram may give the obstetrician an idea of how large the baby is, it is not a perfect science. Some women may be capable of a natural delivery of a large baby, but many are not and need an emergency C-section.
Another concern is when the opening of the vagina cannot stretch enough to accommodate the baby's head. Massaging the vagina may improve stretching, but this is not always the case. Obstetricians will often perform an episiotomy instead of allowing the vagina to tear. A torn vagina can be harder to repair and there is a risk the tear may reach the anus. Sometimes babies are not in the right position to be delivered. An obstetrician may attempt to turn the baby to a head-down position, but this is not always successful. Attempting to deliver a baby in the wrong position can lead to injury to the baby or lack of oxygen, which can cause brain damage. It is safer to deliver these babies via C-section than attempt to deliver them naturally.
Identifying Afterbirth Problems
Once the baby is successfully delivered, the possibility of complications from delivery is not over. The final phase of delivery is to expel the afterbirth, which is the placenta. Under normal circumstances, women will start experiencing additional contractions after delivery for the afterbirth to come out. Sometimes all the afterbirth does not come out and it may be retained in the uterus. In extreme cases, the retained afterbirth can cause hemorrhaging, which is a medical emergency. If the retained afterbirth is not serious, the woman may be given medications to help her uterus contract harder to expel the afterbirth or the obstetrician may remove it manually.
Although many women want to have their baby outside the hospital, there can be significant risks for both mother and baby when medical care is delayed. Choosing to have your baby inside a hospital with an obstetrician is the safest way to have a baby. Contact an obstetrician for more information.