Thursday, 24 July 2014

A Holistic Approach to Pregnancy and Childbirth

A major life transition for women is pregnancy and childbirth. They are physical events, which affect the whole lifestyle of the individual like: their identity, values, relationships and beliefs. It makes absolute sense to consider a body, mind and spirit or a holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth.

Many may have doubts and fears about a holistic approach. There will be questions asked like whether they can achieve a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth and also if they can maintain their physical and emotional health and well-being during that transition.

The Physical Benefits of a Holistic Approach

You can minimize the physical discomforts of pregnancy and maximize your physical health with a holistic approach. A proper exercise regimen and a healthy diet will help build a strong foundation. Many complementary practises and therapies will also help in alleviating problems during pregnancy. For example, acupuncture and massage will offer comfort with low risk of side effects.

The Emotional Benefits of a Holistic Approach

During the period of pregnancy and childbirth, many women go through an emotional roller coaster ride with symptoms of anxiety, mood swings and even depression. There are many families who have the wrong notion that women who give birth are the happiest people in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Having a baby represents a great change, not just for the body but also the mind. So it can get pretty stressful. That is when you should acknowledge your shortcomings and make the effort to make peace with yourself. This will reduce the harmful effects of stress on your body and mind. Reducing mental stress, will decrease your blood pressure, heart rate, reduces muscular tension, helps in digestion, and enhances immunity and the strength to deal with discomfort and pain. You can implement holistic stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis, guided imagery, massage, etc.

The Benefits of Holistic Approach to Childbirth

Holistic approach during childbirth facilitates the most natural progression of labor. You can have the liberty to discuss with your doctor or midwife about the best plan of care that is safe for you and your child.  This will give you confidence about your decision and empower you to do the best for your family. However, you need to learn about the risks and benefits of holistic approach if the labor progresses in an expected or unexpected manner. For example, your doctor or midwife may opt for a Caesarean section if the baby is in a breech position or may induce labor to help you better cope with pain. Knowing this vital piece of information will help you better prepare for what’s ahead. You and your health care provider can both decide to wait for labor or schedule surgery.

Holistic approach helps you avoid the unnecessary use of technology. Your healthcare provider will not undertake common labor interventions like fetal monitoring, vacuum extractors and forceps. These tools may be beneficial at some time but when used unnecessarily, it can cause problems for the health of the mother and the baby.

Pain management and Holistic practises

When it comes to the choice of pain management, there are various holistic treatments and techniques used like breathing, hydrotherapy, guided imagery, aromatherapy, self-hypnosis, movement in place of drugs like epidurals. But why on earth will women choose a natural birth if they can take conventional medicine to ease the pain and discomfort? The answer is simple and complex at the same time. Conventional medicine will help you feel more comfortable during labor but it can cause side effects in the long run.  Using narcotic type medications will cause the mother to feel nauseated, groggy and lightheaded which will potentially interfere with movement. The baby has a strong possibility of being born sleepy and in need of breathing simulation. This causes interference with breastfeeding as well. Spinal anaesthesia will affect the length of labor and may increase the chances of a caesarean section. There may be a drop in blood pressure for the mother which affects the amount of oxygen that gets to the baby. Sometimes a urinary catheter is used to drain urine from the bladder. Some women will experience difficulty in passing urine even after the epidural wears off.

Taking these facts into consideration, a holistic approach manages pain and allows the mother to avoid the side effects of conventional medication. This will result in many advantages like quick post recovery, minimal side effects and proper breastfeeding.

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