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ultrasound of human fetus 30 weeks and 3 days

Your baby today

It can come as quite a surprise to see that your baby will be increasingly making all sorts of expressions. Here the baby had his mouth turned down but the next minute will be yawning, grimacing, or peacefully sleeping.

Natural birth has many advocates, but the best birth is one that delivers your baby safely with minimum trauma for both of you.

Many women want a natural delivery, with no pain relief or other medical intervention. Giving birth naturally is for some reason perceived as the "best" way, and to do otherwise means that you somehow "failed" at childbirth. This pressure means that women can feel guilty or even depressed if they needed pain relief or a cesarean section, for example.

Bear in mind that some women have higher pain thresholds and can get through labor with simple breathing or relaxation techniques, while others need more help. Pain is subjective, no one else can feel your pain; if it is too much for you, then ask for help. Your options (see Tranquilizers) will be explained to you by the doctor.

Childbirth is hard work, but the experience should not be so painful that it scars you. Being pain-free may mean that you have a more enjoyable, even empowering, labor experience. If you do decide you want pain relief, an epidural is the most common option-more than half of women having a baby in a hospital receive one.

Ask A Panel About... Natural birth

I want a natural birth but everyone says I'll change my mind once I'm in labor. Are they right?

Mom: Nothing can prepare you for the discomfort of labor, and I found my carefully laid plans were unrealistic and impractical when the pain kicked in. No matter how well prepared you are, you may change your mind during labor, and it's worth being prepared for that. I did feel a bit disappointed that I couldn't manage without pain relief. It helps if you focus on what's important-delivering a healthy baby. If you achieve this aim, you've succeeded, no matter what happens along the way. I would say to stick it out for as long as you can, but you'll be doing yourself and your baby no favors if you both become exhausted and distressed.

Doctor: Many women are shocked by the intensity of the birth experience, and soon forget about their idealistic birth plan. It's better for all involved that you allow for contingency plans, and keep an open mind. Pain relief and interventions are designed to make the experience better for you and your baby, and will not be offered unless they're necessary, or you feel that you can't do without them. Some women get through labor naturally; others need some help. A lot of women do change their mind about "going natural," and there is nothing wrong with that. A mom who has her pain under control will find that the delivery is much quicker, and she'll have much more energy for her new arrival.

pregnant woman and hospital nurse

Having a natural birth is high on the list of many women's priorities, but it's a good idea to prepare mentally for medical intervention, in case it becomes necessary.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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