Historically, the Fedhealth trend has been a much higher C-section rate when compared to natural deliveries. While C-sections are still the most prevalent delivery method for the Scheme, the last few months have definitely shown more NVDs.
Possible explanations for this is that more members and providers opted for NVDs due to the possibility of a lesser COVID-19 infection risk, as well as the shorter length of stay in hospital versus that which is common with a C-section.
As such, we asked Deryse van Aardt, childbirth educator and board member of the International Childbirth Education Association, and Fedhealth’s pregnancy and birth expert, to reiterate the benefits of natural birth for mothers and babies, especially for all our pregnant beneficiaries:
The impact of coronavirus and lockdown since March has seen some dramatic changes in the way women have had to deal with pregnancy and birth. Fedhealth, quickly understanding that their members were battling to navigate through this dilemma, immediately offered weekly online interactive childbirth preparation classes for all their mothers-to-be.
Many of the mothers-to-be soon realised the health benefits of natural birth and selected this option to ensure not only the healthiest outcome for baby and herself, but also the fact that her partner was able to be present and assist her through birth. One mother who was due to have a second C-section with her second baby, opted for a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) and achieved a water birth too!
So why suddenly is a large movement of mothers-to-be selecting natural? Put quite simply, natural childbirth is a safe and natural human event. Natural birth, also known as ‘physiological birth’ has tremendous benefits for the mother and baby. According to Romano & Lothian, 2008, some of these benefits are:
• less postpartum pain
• quicker physical recovery from the birth
• increase in self-esteem as a result of the birth
• enhanced bonding with the baby
• reduced likelihood of post-natal depression
• a calmer, more settled baby
• an easier breastfeeding experience
• effective respiratory transition for the baby
• more effective gut colonisation that prevents allergies in the baby
Cumulative to this is the higher opportunity of mothers being able to achieve immediate skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping. The benefits of skin-to-skin are:
Infant cries 10 times less and for shorter periods than infants in cribs
Increased maternal affectionate/nurturing behaviours
Enhances effective breastfeeding
Better thermoregulation and temperature maintenance
More cardio-respiratory stability
Higher blood glucose levels
Less initial weight loss
More restful natural sleep cycles and more quiet sleep
Reduced stress reaction to painful procedures
Additional benefits of physiologic birth include a reduction in genital tract trauma/need for suturing (Albers, Sedler, Bedrick, Teaf, & Peralta, 2006) as well as triggering the production of certain proteins in a newborn’s brain that may improve brain development (Dominguez-Bello, et al., 2010).
According to the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), 2015, physiologic birth is evidence-based and optimal for mothers and babies. Expectant parents can optimise their chances for a physiologic birth by attending childbirth education classes with the latest research (Zwelling, 2008).
Women need to be aware of the benefits of physiologic birth to mothers and babies, as well as the risks of interventions. If you don’t know your options, you won’t have any.