Alternative birth and why we need them in India

Mom giving birth at hospital

When my wife and I got pregnant, one of the first things to come to our mind was reaching out to a good gynaecologist. We were lucky enough to find one as per our requirement in a descent hospital not too far from our home. However, after a few initial weeks when we started getting used to the idea that we were pregnant, we began to earnestly look at different birthing options. Practicalities of what we can and cannot do would come much later, first we wanted to explore all possibilities apart from giving birth in a hospital.

It all started with a video we watched on YouTube of what looked like a naturist or nudist family in the forest (looked like somewhere in North America), where the woman was giving birth (not her first) by the stream of crystal clear water. My wife and I immediately realised the practical difficulties we would face if we wanted to do something like this, which made it bordering on impossible. Yet this became a kind of unachievable gold standard with which we would compare all other birthing options. The idea that a baby would breathe it’s first breath in such pristine clean air and would be welcomed by the sounds of forest birds and insects was simply amazing for us.

Early birthing practices in forest - Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Home birth is one of the most obvious (and traditionally most common) option for anyone looking to not using a hospital. Such birthing is usually done by midwives. Unfortunately, in a bid to cut down child’s and mother’s mortality during birth, the Indian government has followed a policy of discouraging home birth and pushing people to use a hospital. As a result there are very few trained midwives available. Those few available in bigger cities are a mix of Indians and expats who have trained overseas.

mom giving birth at home - Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Water birth, where birthing is done submerged in a tub of water and which supposedly makes labour pain much more manageable naturally, is another option that has gained popularity over past couple of decades. Yet there are very few people who will be able to arrange this for you.

A very good alternate to hospitals are specialised birthing centres. They come in different form and sizes. Some will only have facilities to stay for birth and maybe a few days before and after. Others may let the couple stay for a big part of their pregnancy wherein all care and requirements will be met. While some will only have midwifery or doula support for birth, others may provide more options like water birth and even unassisted birth. And finally, while most of these places will be able to take care of minor medical emergencies, not all may have specialised doctors in-house that can take care of a bigger problem if such arise during the birthing process. In such a case, it is better if there is a good hospital nearby where you can quickly go in case something arises which the birthing centre is not able to handle.

mom giving birth to child at hospital - Parenting resources by ZenParent

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But alas, there are very few of such birthing centres as well. There is one in Hyderabad, Cochin and Goa (giving birth in Goa looked specially appealing to my wife and I!). There maybe others too that I’m not aware of. But chances are, there isn’t one near where you live or even in your city! But the one’s there are, are designed like a retreat where both you and your partner can spend many days or even months! So if you have time (apart from the money of course), and are in good health overall, then this option is definitely worth considering.

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