Is natural childbirth best?
” Not necessarily. Natural childbirth means a woman goes through labor minus any drugs to quell the pain. Many moms-to-be think this makes labor less problematic, but no evidence shows that forgoing drugs produces healthier babies or easier deliveries, says Dr. Reichman. As long as they’re given at the right time, neither an epidural (anesthesia injected near the spinal cord) nor a muscle relaxant harms the baby. “What does it mean when your water breaks?” “It means the amniotic sac, which surrounds the baby, has ruptured, allowing amniotic fluid to leak out,” says Dr. Tisherman. And though the average amount of fluid is three tablespoons, some women report a virtual flood. “When my water broke, it gushed all at once and left a gross puddle on the floor!” says Sarah, 38. “Does the delivery really hurt?” It hurts, yes. But exactly how bad the pain is varies. First, a little childbirth 101: Contractions signal the start of labor; they help widen the normally closed cervix to about 10 cen