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If you want an active birth, this may influence how you feel about the type of pain relief you want to use and about monitoring in labor. For example, continuous monitoring can limit your movement. If the doctor wants to monitor your labor continuously, talk to her about how you can maintain some mobility; for example, by sitting on a birthing ball, or adopting an all-fours position on the bed or on a mattress on the floor.
Factors that may influence the type of pain relief you would like include how active you want to be ; what effect different drugs may have on how you experience labor; and how drugs can affect the baby.
Natural methods, such as breathing techniques, laboring in water, and TENS , and some medical pain-relief options, such as analgesics allow an active birth because you won't lose all feeling or muscle movement. However systemic (IV) analgesics cross the placenta and can affect the baby's breathing at birth. Regional anesthetics, such as epidurals , limit movement and can mean that you won't feel when you're pushing.
Writing your preferences in a birth plan helps you to consolidate your thoughts and to pass this information on to your doctor. Or your doctor may discuss a birth plan with you. A birth plan is useful too for your birthing partner, who may need to advocate on your behalf in labor. Birth plans also allow you to state any special needs you may have, such as whether you have a disability.
Make your birth plan straightforward and accessible. Working with your caregivers as a team will help you deal well with labor and be involved in decision making, whatever the outcome.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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