Birth Methods

Having recently had my 3rd child and a very different birth experience to the first 2, a c-section due to the little blighter turning frank breech in the last 3 days, and having put into practice all the advice (and more) I usually give to those having c-sections, I have experienced firsthand the different methods of childbirth and can honestly see the very real differences. It is important to understand ALL the pros and cons of both so to be able to honestly choose which is right for you, if you’re lucky enough to have that choice and to understand what needs to be done post-birth to correct and balance things so that we all start off with the best fighting chance. Having gone through a natural birth in hospital without pain medication, a natural home birth again without medication and a semi-emergency c-section… I would still choose a natural birth…for many reasons.

According to Caesar rates are around 70% in private hospitals, with most of those elective procedures, very few medically indicated and most to protect the doctor from possible malpractice suits. Now of course there are medical reasons for having a c-section, where this is the ‘safest’ option for the health of mother and baby, but there are also many medical reasons why natural birth is the ‘safest’ option, depending on what’s important to you or considered safe. 

I bet most of you didn’t know that the health of your child, level of his immunity, spinal alignment, musculo-skeletal development and most importantly his nervous system development are affected by the type of birth he experiences? When you first fall pregnant, you marvel at the miraculous changes that occur each week, getting weekly updates from your favourite website on how many millimetres they are and when their nails start growing. Everyone who experiences it, can’t quite believe the incredible wisdom in the natural growth of a baby – ‘it’s a miracle’ is commonly heard. Why then is the method that nature chooses to birth that baby questioned and seems to be almost frowned upon and has sadly become a serious minority? I have yet to come across any website that gives you all the pros and cons of both, so I’m gonna fill in the gaps of the information that is not out there. I am not going to repeat every one you already know, but highlight some differences and new information, so please don’t think that if the info wasn’t in this article then it isn’t valid or true, the Editor says there just isn’t enough space!

There are no 2 ways about it, a woman’s body was designed to give natural childbirth, and a baby was designed to be born naturally, it is not an out-dated, antiquated method but is a very necessary process for many reasons and is certainly not dangerous (there are 10x more complications with mother and baby during c-sections than with natural deliveries that are really only safer for the doctor, according to the same site mentioned before).

There are so many benefits for mom and baby; firstly going into labour ensures that the baby arrives when he is ready, when he has grown enough within the womb and now needs to be born to continue developing. Up until this point, we have trusted in the process…going into labour kick-starts a hormonal cascade in the mom’s body getting her body prepared to give birth, widen hips, dilate pelvis & cervix and very importantly initiate breast milk production & release. Going further through labour to delivery (we’ll skip the hard part, cos although I chose the natural/no drugs option for my natural births, taking pain relief is certainly not frowned upon and yes, this can take about 18-24 hours), the birth process is what’s most important for your baby. Movement of the baby during labour and its progress through the birth canal stimulates certain reflexes and is vitally important for the flow of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and according to many health professionals, initiates certain processes within the body, especially the nervous and immune system. The spine is also adjusted and aligned during the birth process, getting all vertebrae and joints in place which is vitally important for muscle, bone and joint development as well as many other body systems, as the spine is the information highway of the body.

Movement through the cervix and vagina allows the baby to pick up ‘good bacteria’,  essential for setting up the health and functionality of the digestive system and setting up the immune system barrier in the gut, which is the basis of the strength of the immune system going forward, especially within the first 2 years of life. It is also important for healthy gut development and the prevention of allergies, food and environmental ones. If the baby has been able to breastfeed from the beginning, getting all the colostrum then the gut will develop better and the baseline health of the child is increased dramatically. Unfortunately, many and most c-section babies do not breast feed, which I will touch on later, which lays the foundation for problems later on.

Another benefit to natural birth is that it stimulates a good sucking reflex with quick latching and good feeding which is essential for the milk to come in. Labour is also tiring for baby, he is awake through the whole experience, many hours when he is used to sleeping regularly, and is moving and pushing against the birth canal. This ensures that when he is born he is awake and starving, initiating a good, strong sucking reflex and the instinctive urge to search for the breast. Newborns when placed on their mothers tummies can actually crawl upwards to find the breast – after 22 long hours of labour with my son he crawled and latched within 60seconds of being born! This gets them immediate colostrum milk, which is thick, rich and highly nutritious.  Colostrum stimulates the bowels to move for the first time to release meconium, the black, sticky first stool that has been lining the entire bowel and protecting it. This must come out now, so that the bowels can be cleared and ready to accept the first milk and entry of outside substances. Babies born by c-section miss out on this vital stimulus and are mostly sleepy for many hours after birth without feeding and getting the sucking reflex going. Many battle to latch, because they are missing this reflex and then Mom battles to breastfeed and the bottle is chosen after a few days. These babies really miss out on the most essential start to life. I know its hard to get breastfeeding going, but get help if you need to, just get it going if you can.  Breast feeding provides not only nutrition, but essential immunity that is passed from mother to baby, another way Nature attempts to give us the best start.

So if you’ve had a c-section, baby isn’t suckling well and goes onto the bottle in the first few days, please give the baby a course of probiotics, to get the good bacteria into the gut and take them for some chiropractic assessment, to align the spine correctly. Another fantastic therapy that I have recently found to work quickly is cranio-sacral therapy, this helped my caesar baby latch properly to avoid the bottle. Spinal manipulation during the birth process is important for activating the palatine bones in the upper mouth that are essential for correct breast latching. The initial latching and suckling is also very important for the mom, for the delivery of the placenta and for the reduction in size of the uterus. Every time the baby suckles, a hormone oxytocin stimulates the uterus to contract, expelling excess blood and clots and reducing in size to be back in the pelvis and a pre-pregnancy size by 6 weeks.

And as far as the recovery and recuperation for mom, natural is definitely the best option, up and about the next day and feeling fine albeit a little stiff and sore. Recovery from major abdominal surgery? Not great, I was flat on my back for the first day, still not able to move, trying to breastfeed and get the latching started without dislodging my catheter! 6 weeks later and my scar is still sore and there is a large patch of tummy that I can’t feel, which isn’t too bad ‘cos I’ve been trying to pretend that part didn’t exist anyway!

I’m sure there are other benefits to natural birth that I am not yet aware of, I do know that vision and spatial awareness are also affected, so bottom line is, please choose wisely and realise that there are necessary therapies and supplements that Caesar babies really do need that your conventional doctor won’t know to tell you about. Well…now you know!

Copyright & written by Dr Catherine Knight formally Dr Catherine Morris (mtech hom deg sa)