A Sign of Our Times: Controlling Nature's Process of Birth

  • You can be sure to have your practitioner of choice at the delivery, (Dr. X will be not be on call the weekend of your due-date).

  • You can arrange for your husband to be available and child-care for your other children while you're expected to be at the hospital.

  • Want to make it to your sister's wedding with enough postpartum time to get back into shape? Easy! We'll schedule the birth the minute you're thirty-eight weeks.

Indeed, I can certainly understand the allure of a scheduled birth. Sometimes it is for the convenience of the doctor, other times for the patient. Some choose a controlled birth for reasons which seem to have a medical rationale. Many doctors will induce labor for a suspected big baby. This rationale has been shown to produce no benefits but instead increase the chances of having a c-section. Some physicians will induce a woman who's had gestational diabetes. To date there has been no credible evidence in support of this reason for induction. And of course there is the routine induction for the woman who is 41 weeks pregnant. What some may find startling is that there is no sound research which supports routine induction at any point in pregnancy.

Furthermore, experts believe that the median length of pregnancy in healthy first-time mothers is forty-one weeks, which means that a full half of these moms will go beyond their forty-first week of pregnancy.

Then there are the controlled births involving a scheduled c-section. There are women who opt for an elective c-section because of fears of becoming incontinent of urine if they deliver their baby vaginally. Though there is some validity to these fears symptoms are usually mild and infrequent. And there are identified happenings during the birthing process which increase these risks. They are:

  • Cutting an episiotomy
  • The use of vacuum extraction or forceps to help deliver baby
  • Having women lie on their backs while giving birth
  • Not having the birthing woman obey her own reflexes to guide pushing and instead allowing care-giver directed pushing which is often more forceful
  • Pressing against the woman's belly to help move the baby out
  • Pressing against the vaginal opening as the baby's head is born

Avoiding the above will reduce the risk of problems holding urine.

Also, a very effective exercise used for the prevention and management of urine incontinence are Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises work by strengthening a muscle in your pelvis called the pubococcygeus, (pronounced pew-bo-kak-se-gee-us; PC for short). This PC muscle encircles the urinary opening so by strengthening it you essentially gain greater bladder control. Wondering exactly where this muscle is? Try this. while sitting on the toilet spread your legs apart and see if you can stop and start the flow of urine without moving your legs. It is the PC muscle that stops the flow of urine. It is recommended at first you do ten, five times a day; then increase the number of exercises by 5 each week, still maintaining five sets each day.

There are also the women who, because they had a long and hard labor for their first child, are afraid of repeating a similar experience and therefore chose to have an elective c-section. What I teach my expecting mothers is that just as every pregnancy is unique so is every birth. A labor that lasted over twenty-four hours the first time may only be two hours for the next pregnancy.

In fact, I know of many women, both personally and professionally, who have had dramatic differences in their birth experience from one child to their next. The fundamental issue in healthy pregnancies seems to be the tools women have accessible to help them through the process of birth.

Fear of pain, anxiety over the unknown, and the worrying of everything from the health of our newborn to the loss of control all render the mind a very powerful influence over the body. The body then tenses and constricts inhibiting the smooth release of our precious baby.