By Guest Blogger By Kristin T. Kerbo, RN, BSN

Delivering thousands of newborns every year, Cone Health Women’s Hospital is in the business of knowing what comfort measures and birthing options are most effective for new mothers and babies.

Developing a birth plan is a very personal process that may require reading, research and networking. Considering all of your options and tools is a valuable way to educate yourself on your birth options. Because you don’t know how this labor will progress and what tools you may need, being familiar with all of them will empower you to make the best decisions for you as your labor unfolds. Here are five top trends in childbirth.

1) There’s An App For That

For a healthy pregnancy, get prenatal care early and often. Regular visits allow the doctor to monitor and manage the health of the mother and the development of the fetus. Since regular visits can be a hardship for a busy mom, Cone Health partnered with Babyscripts and co-created a telehealth program for expecting mothers. Babyscripts minimizes in-person doctor visits by using app-based remote monitoring.

If your low-risk pregnancy qualifies for the Babyscripts program, you will receive a free “mommy kit” that includes a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff and instructions to download weight-tracking software and an app to your phone. The Bluetooth monitoring device pairs with the app and sends weekly readings to your doctor’s office. If anything abnormal appears, a member of your care team will call you. With these monitoring devices, some patients have been able to cut their prenatal visits from 13 to 9.

2) Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth means using non-medicinal coping skills to manage the discomfort of labor.

Key benefits of a delivery without medications may include:

Increased range of motion – A mother may be able to maintain more upright positions, respond to her body’s cues, and enhance her baby’s positioning for delivery.

Production of endorphins – Endorphins are our natural pain-killers, and in an un-medicated birth, they are produced in increasing amounts to help with the discomfort of labor.

3) Water Birth

Water birth is an alternative birthing option for low-risk pregnancies. The water can help to decrease mom’s perception of the pain associated with childbirth. The water helps to facilitate this by:

  • Comfort and mobility of the mother
  • Increased ability to be upright
  • Facilitated rotation and descent of baby
  • Reduced pressure on the abdomen
  • Energy conservation
  • Deeper relaxation

Mothers interested in a water birth should discuss this option with their care providers.

4) Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide (aka laughing gas) is inhaled through a breathing mask during labor. It has been used by mothers at Women’s Hospital since March 2017 to quickly ease the discomfort of contractions. Requests by laboring mothers to use nitrous oxide continue to rise in the Triad.

Birthing Suite on Green Valley Road

5) Wait 40 Weeks

Experts in obstetrics agree that babies born at 39 to 40 weeks gestation have fewer complications and additional health conditions, which is why elective delivery before 40 weeks is largely avoided at Women’s Hospital. This best practice was adopted at Cone Health to better ensure the safety and health of our mothers and babies.

As you think about your options, consider additional supports that can help you reach your goals for your labor and delivery. Be sure to investigate the childbirth education options available in your community. In these classes you will get information about the birthing process, how your body can facilitate the process, and potentially the policies at your birthing center. These classes are a great way to meet others who are expecting little ones around the same time you are, and sometimes, life-long friendships are begun.


About the Author

Kristin Tagliarini Kerbo, RN3, BSN, CBE, CIMI, has more than 20 years of experience as a nurse. She serves as a childbirth educator at Cone Health Women’s Hospital – serving as the lead instructor for natural childbirth and water birth classes. Earlier this year she was selected by her colleagues as a Nursing Excellence honoree.