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What are the different types of preparation for childbirth?
These include practising relaxation exercises, learning gestures and solutions to relieve the pain of contractions, obtaining knowledge of one’s body and making time for exchanges with a health professional and other parents. Preparations for childbirth are numerous, allowing future parents to be involved in their child’s birth and understand the main physical and physiological mechanisms of pregnancy. These birth preparations are ideal moments to share doubts, anxieties and uncertainties; thus, it is important to choose the one that suits you best.
The topics discussed
Eight preparation sessions paid for by the social security are generally offered to pregnant women to approach the birth in the most relaxed way possible, gain self-confidence, discover the muscles involved in childbirth, practise breathing exercises useful for pushing and prepare for the arrival of the baby as a couple and family. During these sessions, several themes are discussed:
- pregnancy: the baby’s development, its physical and psychological changes, possible pathologies and reasons for consultation
- practical issues: preparing the suitcase for the maternity ward, the baby’s room, compulsory administrative documents to be completed
- labour: contractions, rupture of the water pocket, monitoring of the birth, foetal monitoring and anaesthesia
- birth: natural birth, caesarean section, reception of the newborn, delivery of the placenta, oxytocin and skin-to-skin
- the return home: sleeping, breastfeeding and the new routine
Preparation for childbirth: psychological and physical approaches
This practice comprises stretching and breathing exercises. In addition to increasing the muscle strength of the mother-to-be, prenatal yoga also allows the woman to become more aware of her body and more attentive to sensations. Generally, yoga helps to relieve the discomfort associated with pregnancy.
The posturo-respiratory approach
Developed by Dr Bernadette de Gasquet, this approach aims to maintain the physiology of childbirth. Above all, it prepares the woman for childbirth; however, it also helps her recover afterwards.
The Bonapace Method
This method involves the participation of the spouse. It involves teaching parents certain postures and massages to facilitate relaxation. Both psychologically and physiologically, they are prepared to face childbirth.
This practice involves reaching a modified state of consciousness to better support discomfort and pain. It is also an effective way to fight stress and, above all, reduce the use of painkillers. Hypnosis can help to shorten the first and second phases of labour.
This is a relaxation technique that is similar to hypnosis. However, it uses more mental and breathing exercises. The aim is to prepare the mother-to-be physically and mentally. Although few publications exist on the subject, the experiments conducted have produced good results.
Acupuncture is a method imported from China that reduces pain and discomfort, not only during pregnancy. It involves implanting needles in specific areas of the body to reduce pain. Similar to hypnosis, acupuncture reduces the use of painkillers.
Natural childbirth: some basic techniques to facilitate birth
Several techniques can be used to facilitate the birth process. The advantages of these methods are that they have few side-effects and can be combined. Some of the most common methods used in hospitals are as follows:
Mobility and positions
Certain positions, particularly vertical ones, facilitate natural childbirth. Sitting, standing and kneeling facilitate pushing and expulsion of the foetus. Additionally, women should be encouraged to move and change position freely during labour to increase comfort. It is noteworthy that in the dorsal position, the second phase of labour is more painful than in a sitting or lateral position.
Immersion in water
Immersion in warm or lukewarm water promotes relaxation and relaxes the muscles. When a woman performs part of her labour in water, the sensation of pain is significantly reduced, and the labour progresses more quickly. Additionally, the warmth of the water provides a feeling of relaxation and support. However, you should wait until the start of labour before considering immersion in water.
Kneading, a calm touch and pressure points promote relaxation in a pregnant woman. In addition to a feeling of relaxation, the woman will be better able to cope with the pain. A massage session also makes the woman feel supported and encouraged. This positive state of mind allows her to better cope with the next stage of labour.
No studies have indicated a need to reduce food and drink during labour. Conversely, women should be kept well hydrated, especially those at low risk. Unless otherwise advised by a doctor, a woman can eat and drink during the first phase of labour, as this is a highly physical stage. Eating and drinking maintain her energy.