For many women, the birthing process can be a profound, natural rite of passage rather than a painful medical event, says Pam England, a mother of two and certified nurse midwife. Dr. Oz talks with Pam, who answers some of the most common questions about the birthing process. Plus, Pam shares her recommendations for both moms- and dads-to-be for having the best birthing experience possible. Who should deliver at home?
Many women can have a safe, healthy delivery at home, Pam says. Women should take a holistic approach in determining whether a home birth is right for them. In addition to a physical screening, Pam says women should assess their emotional mind-set and whether they have the support of close loved ones.
What's the best position for birthing?
Lying on the back is convenient for physicians, but "it's the worst thing for a woman," Pam says. This position, while common, is more painful for the woman because it collapses the diameter of the pelvis up to an inch, making delivery more difficult. Instead, Pam recommends women stand upright, move around and squat—keeping their hips higher than their knees—until they find the positions that best suit them.
Are epidurals necessary?
While eliminating pain has become a social norm, Pam says it may not be in the best interest of the woman. When an epidural is given, Pam says it interrupts the biofeedback mechanism in the body in which the dilating cervix sends messages to the brain to produce more oxytocin, which in turn leads to the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers. Labor often slows down or stops as a result, which requires additional drugs be administered, Pam says. While it's up to a woman to decide whether she wants an epidural, Pam says it's important that women do not feel shame for feeling pain or expressing that pain during childbirth.
What should a father's role be during childbirth?
Fathers can be traumatized by witnessing the birth of their child and not knowing what to do, Pam says. Therefore, she says fathers who've been through the experience should help new fathers prepare mentally and emotionally. "From the fathers' points of view, they can get real advice about what is it like to experience birth as a father and what helps fathers experience birth in a way that's constructive for them," Pam says.