What is a natural childbirth?
These days pregnancy is full of personal choices. You can choose how to conceive, how to take care and enjoy your bump and how to deliver. Have you thought of how you're going to welcome your baby? Do you want to give birth in a hospital? Do you want drugs or do you want to avoid them? Do you want medical interventions?
If your answers are: No, I don't want to give birth in a hospital; No, I don't want drugs; No, I don't want medical interventions, then you may be a candidate to have a natural childbirth. But before you go ahead and have your kid "au natural", maybe you should learn all you can about natural childbirth, what is it? what are the advantages and disadvantages?
We'd like to help you make an informed decision, so keep reading and learn more about natural childbirth.
So first, what is a natural childbirth? In simple terms, natural birth is letting nature take its course, a "low tech" way of giving birth. A natural childbirth is a vaginal labor and delivery with limited or zero medical intervention. It's about choices, you get to choose if you are going to have some kind of pain relief or the doctor that's going to assist.
There are some options regarding a natural childbirth:
- Instead of a hospital, you can choose to deliver your baby in a birthing center or at home.
- You can choose to work with a doula, a midwife or an OB-GYN that prefers minimal intervention or has assisted often in natural births.
- There are alternative delivery positions, you don't have to be lying on your back in a bed, you can squat, be on all fours (hand and knees), you can kneel or lean against a chair or your partner.
- You can choose an alternative drug-free-method that includes: hydrotherapy, hypnosis, massage, relaxation techniques, meditation, acupressure and breathing exercises.
- You get to avoid medical interventions like routine IV's. labor induction, an episiotomy, continuous fetal monitoring, assisted delivery with forceps or vacuum extraction.
You can also choose to have your baby in a tub of warm water. Also, it is an option during a natural childbirth to immediately deliver your baby to your stomach for a skin-to-skin contact.
Many women choose a natural childbirth because they want to really feel their birth experience, they want to have some control over what happens during labor and delivery, deal with it in a more proactive manner.
Advantages of natural childbirth
There are some advantages if you choose to have your baby through a natural birth. The benefits are for you and your baby, so here are 5 advantages or benefits for you to consider.
1. You can have a shorter labor
Pain medications like Epidural can slow down your delivery time. These medications interfere with the way your body naturally goes to labor because they slow down contractions. Also by not feeling the contractions, you don't know when to push. If you don´t push at key times and with strength, your labor process is not facilitated. In a natural childbirth, the labor is facilitated because you get to work with your body's rhythm.
Also, you have more freedom with a natural childbirth, because you don't have an IV that can confine you to a bed, you can walk or change positions so you'll be more comfortable.
Photo by Jonas Kakaroto on Unsplash
2. It is safer for your baby
The use of epidural during labor can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and that could mean less oxygen for your baby. Also, your baby is less alert after an epidural.
A natural childbirth can help your baby to breath. During labor, your baby produces the "fight hormones" called catecholamines, these hormones are produced in response to the stressful situation that is labor for your baby. Catecholamines help your baby in various ways and one of them is the adaptation of his breathing when he is born.
Catecholamines also will help your baby by increasing his or her glucose levels, maintaining him with stable sugar level until is time for breastfeeding.
Another advantage or benefit of natural childbirth for your baby is that it promotes a strong immune system. During pregnancy, you give your baby maternal antibodies, but most of them are transferred during labor.
3. You'll be "present" during labor and delivery
During a natural childbirth, you stay present because you are forgoing all pain medications including an epidural. The narcotics definitely ease the pain but can also cause some grogginess and can make you feel disconnected from the birth of your child.
By not having any medication, your full attention will be on your child's birth and because of the rush of all the natural endorphins, you may actually enjoy it and not just suffer it.
4. Your recovery time will be faster
Planning a natural childbirth can get you up and about in a shorter time, Not taking medications and not having tubes or needles stuck to your body will allow you to get up shortly after giving birth if that's what you desire. You can walk or go take a shower.
Also, the endorphins that you produce during labor will help calm and heal your body.
5. You'll feel empowered
Natural childbirth will empower you and can make you feel more confident in your role as a mom. After experiencing a natural childbirth, making it through all the extreme demands of labor you'll feel stronger and have a sense that you can tackle any challenge life throws you.
Disadvantages of natural childbirth
Natural childbirth with all its benefits for you and your baby is not for every pregnancy. There are some complicated cases where medical intervention is a must, especially when there's a risk for the mother or the baby.
Natural childbirth also has some disadvantages. Take note before you make any decision.
1. You'll feel everything, natural childbirth doesn't eliminate pain
Natural childbirth is for women who have been conditioned to feel all the pain, from the labor to the pushing and everything in between. You can do things to dull the pain like breathing techniques or meditation or changing positions but there's no eliminating it.
So take note that you'll have to be prepared for all that you'll be going through, you'll have to be healthy enough to tolerate the pain.
2. Your labor could be prolonged
If you have a low tolerance for pain, then you should reconsider having a natural childbirth. Not being able to tolerate that kind of pain may make you weak when the time to push comes around and that could prolong your labor or even complicate it.
If you're thinking of having a natural childbirth you'll need to condition your mind so that your body can be conditioned too.
3. Blood loss risk is heightened by natural childbirth
In some cases, natural childbirth may increase blood loss during delivery, especially when there's a tearing involved and you have had a prolonged labor. You may eventually lose a lot of blood or faint and that could lead to medical interventions which will require drugs and medications.
4. It can wear you out
Feeling all that pain can get you exhausted before it's time to really push and give birth to your baby. You'll stay longer in the delivery room gathering strength to continue to push.
An epidural can save you energy during labor.
Classes on natural childbirth techniques
If you're set on having a natural childbirth, there are some techniques that are used when a mother decides to have her baby without pain medications. These techniques have been used for many years and can help you have a successful birthing.
You'll need to study each one if you're a candidate for natural childbirth so that you can discuss with your doctor or midwife which one is the best choice for you.
1. The Alexander technique
This technique is a general practice that´s been adapted for women. The Alexander technique will teach posture and movement techniques to ease tension and pain, by aiming to restore your original poise and posture you will improve balance, coordination, back pain, and indigestion as your body adjust to the pregnancy.
The Alexander technique will get you prep for delivery by coordinating your breathing and strengthening your pelvic muscles.
2. The Bradley Method
The goal of this method is natural childbirth. The Bradley Method focuses on self-awareness and it emphasizes good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation. It will effectively get your baby's father involved to help you deal with the pain and stress of labor.
It will get you prep for labor by tunning into and trusting your body using breathing and relaxation techniques and it will teach you the positions which will ease labor and get you ready for all the stages of labor.
Photo by Kewei Hu on Unsplash
This technique or method is the most popular. To decrease the perception of pain and to reduce discomfort, the Lamaze method utilizes distraction during the contractions.
During a Lamaze class, both you and your partner will learn to control deep breathing, massage, concentration and how to maintain control during labor.
4. Hypnosis or Hypnobirthing
In a natural childbirth, the hypnobirthing technique is a viable way to deal with labor pains. It relies on the power of suggestion to help you relax so your muscles can function according to the way they're designed.
Hypnobirthing uses affirmations and visualizations, paired with special breathing and meditative techniques, all this will help guide your thoughts in a positive direction and your fear and stress will naturally decrease.
If you're kind of skeptical of this technique and want to learn more, go to www.hypnobirthing.com
Best books on natural childbirth
You need to be ready if you're really thinking about having your first or second child by a natural childbirth. If you've got the time, here are some book suggestions on the topic so you could be prepared.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
This is a half birth story half factual guide to having a baby, written by Ina May Gaskin, a world-famous midwife. It's very easy to read with no medical jargon and very practical advice. Check it out.
Birthing from Within
Maybe you have all the facts but you're lacking something very needed in a natural childbirth: emotional and physical preparation. Written by a midwife this book can help you get emotionally and physically prepared with activities like journal writing and meditation.
Natural childbirth sure has its pros and cons, so be sure to talk with your doctor or midwife about this option of giving birth and take your time to decide and prepare because it looks like you'll need a lot of energy physically, mentally and emotionally.