To avoid putting the mother through intense pain – which can also cause suffering to the baby or even death – some extreme procedures have to be done during birth. The pregnant woman and her family, of course, will be oriented and briefed by the doctor, who, it’s worth noting, will only use these measures as a last resort. The most common ones are:

Emergency C-section

If the medical team, who are prepared for a normal birth, agree there is a risk either to the mother or child, they’ll opt for an emergency C-section to ensure a safer birth. The main concerns are eclampsia, fetal suffering or any other obstetric issue.

Inducing the birth with medication

The main substances used are prostaglandin and oxytocin. The first is introduced through the vagina as a suppository. It is placed during the night so the uterus can start the birthing process by morning. Oxytocin, on the other hand, is administered intravenously and is supposed to induce contractions. When these hormones are prescribed, it’s common that contractions will become more painful than natural ones, which is why analgesic methods, including anesthesia, can be used as well.

Breaking the water artificially (amniotomy)

The water tends to break naturally before you go into labor. However, in extreme cases, doctors can do so artificially to induce the body into naturally beginning the production of prostaglandin and, consequently, contractions. In this procedure, a sterilized plastic clamp is inserted into the vagina to lightly touch the amniotic sac. This usually causes the baby to turn upside down, which will produce contractions. The mother will feel the same way she would if the bag were to rupture naturally. This practice, however, poses some risks which is why it should only be used as a last resort. For example: if the baby doesn’t turn when the water breaks, there is a possibility the child could become entangled in the umbilical cord and the risk of infection increases.

Episiotomy

A small, surgical cut made at the perineum – the musculature between the vagina and the anus – during childbirth. The technique should be used to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupturing tissues. The episiotomy prevents the perineum from tearing in an irregular manner, ensuring the tissue heals properly and recovers faster.