With three out of every four births performed by vaginal delivery, many pregnant women are turning away from elective cesarean sections and opting to restore the natural birthing process. As part of the preparation for labor and delivery, education in the complications associated with birthing is becoming increasingly common. While many obstetricians warn complications are rare, it is prudent for a pregnant woman to understand the potential risk which could present during labor and delivery and what the outcome of specific birthing services may be.
Vaginal delivery is, obviously, the most natural form of the birthing process. However, with advances in medical technology, a pregnant woman who experiences a complication during vaginal delivery might be supported through the use of birthing instruments. As a result, during pregnancy, a woman should discuss the use of birthing support instruments so as to calm fears associated with their use and also strategically establish a plan should complications arise. Even after this preparation, however, complications with the newborn, attributed to vaginal delivery, are quite common. As a pregnant woman, understanding the risks to the newborn, associated with vaginal delivery, will provide for a more pleasant and well educated birthing experience.
While most birth injuries are the result of complications which arise during labor, and associated pressure of contractions, there is a risk of injury, to the newborn, during the actual vaginal delivery process. Especially in cases in which a pregnant woman struggles in the actual delivery process resulting in the need for forceps or vacuum extraction. While these obstetric services are, generally, safe, there are risks associated with use of these birthing support devices. In rare, and extreme cases, the use of birthing forceps, or vacuum extraction, can lead to bruising of the newborn’s body, especially around the scalp and face which, in rare cases, may depress the skull leading to fracture.
While forceps and vacuum extraction, during vaginal delivery, are considered safe in relieving distress, the health risks to the newborn are possible. While rare, the potential for skull fracture and a condition known as caput succedaneum, a swelling over the scalp, will result in additional medical care to the newborn. In most cases, the conditions are not life threatening but may impose on the joyous occasion of the birthing process.
When pregnant and discussing labor and delivery services with an obstetrician, it is important that a pregnant woman discuss the obstetrician’s medical belief and practices with regard to birthing support services, such as forceps or vacuum extraction. While it is the obstetrician’s ultimate responsibility to determine the need for these services, a pregnant woman will serve well in understanding how these birthing methods are applied and what, if any, prenatal activities she may engage in to promote a healthy and efficient delivery process so as to avoid forceps and vacuum extraction.
As with any prenatal education program, seeking out the support and education associated with not only prenatal health but also health education in labor and delivery and postnatal care, is crucial to the overall health of both Mom and baby. For more information regarding labor and delivery, in addition to the various birthing complications and support services, visit www.pregnancy.com.