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Types of Birth

In the old days, women in labor were greeted with a shave and an enema, and given no choice but to spend the rest of their pre-delivery hours on their backs, hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor. Walks, snacks, and visitors were not allowed.

Today, expectant moms have a lot more options. In-hospital birthing centers combine the look and feel of an upscale hotel suite and the latest in hospital technology, in case it's needed. Not only husbands, but children, mothers-in-law, aunts, friends, and long-lost cousins are welcomed, and amenities like views and jacuzzis are available.

Low-risk pregnancies can often come to fruition at home, with the help of an attending physician or a midwife. A lot of mothers prefer the privacy, comfort, and control going through labor in their home. Many mothers also love to share the intimate experience of childbirth with a midwife rather than a hospital staff. Midwives today are qualified to administer drugs, perform medical procedures, and provide their patients with the latest in medical technology when it is needed. Their approach remains more personal than technological though, and many mothers who do not suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, fibroid tumors, or other conditions associated with high-risk births choose the support and encouragement a midwife offers.

Free-standing birth centers are operated by obstetricians, midwives or both, and offer mothers who want to experience natural, low-tech childbirth an alternative to giving birth at home. Many of these birth centers offer the option of water birth, which many laboring mothers find a workable (and almost risk-free) alternative to epidural anesthesia, since water removes some discomforts of labor associated with weight, position, and support. Water also equalizes the pressure on the baby, allowing them to get optimal blood and oxygen flow to the placenta and sometimes allowing minor malpresentations, like (a misaligned head) to self-correct. Mothers love the lower blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, increased endorphins (a natural pain reliever), and reduced stress.

Midwives can accompany you through your pregnancy and birth no matter where you decide to deliver, and water birth is an option at home as well as in birth centers. You have a lot more power than your mother did to decide how you want to experience and share your baby's birth. Don't forget to appreciate this and take advantage of it!

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