What Is Natural Childbirth?
The term “natural birth” has been used to signify that a woman’s preference was for a vaginal delivery versus cesarean section. Today, this phrase is used to indicate the desire for a drug-free labor and delivery. This typically means no labor-inducing medication and no pain medication.
In the event of birth complications, medical intervention is available. Safety is a priority for birthing centers and healthcare providers who assist with natural childbirth. Have a discussion with your provider to determine if there are any reasons that a natural birth may not be appropriate for you.
Benefits of Natural Childbirth
There are several benefits to the natural birthing process.
- Some experts believe that the drug-free birthing process is a healthier option. Drugs that are administered to the laboring mother pass to the fetus through the umbilical cord.
- Natural birth increases a woman’s awareness of her own body and her intuitive birthing instincts.
- Mothers who give birth naturally tend to have a significant sense of empowerment and accomplishment stemming from this life event.
- Both partners take an active role in the delivery process.
- In many cases, skin-to-skin contact may take place immediately. Studies suggest that immediate skin-to-skin contact can increase the ease of breastfeeding.
Am I a Candidate for Natural Childbirth?
Most women are good candidates for natural childbirth. Prior to making the decision to follow this birthing path, we conduct a thorough consultation and health examination to confirm that you are in good health. Certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney, lung, or heart disease, and neurologic disorders may inhibit candidacy for a natural birth. However, speak with your doctor before counting yourself out. The benefit of having a natural birth in the hospital is that medical interventions are available should the need arise.
In addition to being in good health, the ideal candidate for natural childbirth is the woman who has a strong desire to have a peaceful, unmedicated, unassisted birth. When we say unassisted, we mean no unnecessary interruptions that stand between a woman and her ability to listen to her own body.
Natural childbirth is an important decision that should not be made with any ties to the idea of this process equating to being a “good mother.” To have this mindset presents a risk that, should medical intervention become necessary, a woman may feel as though she has failed, or that her body has failed her.
Natural Childbirth Pain Management
Pain-relieving techniques during natural childbirth include:
- Breathing Techniques
Should I Consider a Doula?
There are numerous benefits to hiring a doula to support your natural childbirth. The relationship between an expectant mother and her birth coach begins early in pregnancy and continues after birth to include newborn care and breastfeeding assistance. Discussions with your Grace provider about your labor team is an important aspect of your pregnancy and delivery experience.
Benefits of a Doula
- Less likelihood of the need for pain medication.
- Lower chance of needing an epidural or a c-section.
- More likely to have positive feelings about childbirth
- Greater success with breastfeeding
Where Can I Have a Natural Birth?
We recommend you keep in mind the level of support you want during your delivery when making this decision. A woman may choose to have a natural birth in various types of settings. It is important to remember that every birth progresses in its own way.
The hospital is a good choice for the woman who senses she may feel more secure with a larger assortment of interventions. Hospital births are more appropriate for multiple births and high-risk pregnancies. Our hospitals have designed birthing rooms to resemble a home-like environment.
How to Prepare for Natural Childbirth
Gathering information is the first step in learning more about the natural birthing process. We are happy to assist you by consulting with you during the early stage of your pregnancy about your candidacy for natural childbirth and what the process involves. Also:
- Consider your ideal birthing team. This may include a partner or family-member, along with your doctor, midwife, and/or doula. The birthing team is integral to the smoothest transitioning through the stages of labor, particularly the active phase of pushing.
- Learn the particulars. There are important details of natural childbirth that you want to know. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the calmer you can feel as delivery day approaches. You may want to take birthing classes, engage in hypnotherapy, or practice breathing techniques well in advance of your child’s birth.
- Learn about pain management. The absence of medication during your birthing process is a choice that leads you to wonderful alternatives. There are several options for pain management, from the use of essential oils and massage to reflexology to body movements.
Your Grace practitioner is a valuable resource for childbirth preparation.
Natural Childbirth Process
The early stage of labor consists of getting ready. During this stage, your cervix is gradually opening (dilation and effacement). Some women transition through this stage very quickly while, for others, this stage occurs over weeks.
During the active stage of labor, your baby is descending into the pelvis in preparation for birth. The pelvis is a flexible structure that will widen to allow this descent. Every woman is unique and will “open” more in certain positions. Throughout your active stage of labor, you may try positions such as:
- Standing or kneeling
- Tabletop, or being on your hands and knees
- Lying on your side
- Sitting on a birthing ball or stool
As your baby enters the birth canal, you will enter the second stage of natural childbirth: crowning and delivery. This second stage commences with a strong urge to push. Many women feel incredibly empowered by this urge, connected to their body in a fulfilling way. During this stage, your birth coach and support team may assist your natural process by massaging, holding, or applying a warm compress to the perineum, the skin between the vaginal and rectal opening.
After your baby is born and you are engaged in the beginning of a new life, you may feel additional contractions as your baby’s placenta is born. This third stage of the birthing process may go by unnoticed or may require a minor amount of your attention. Usually, during this stage, Mother and Baby are preoccupied with the beautiful, overwhelming feelings of their magical moment.
Natural Childbirth Risks
Giving birth is a natural mechanism of the female body. Your body knows what to do. The risks associated with natural childbirth are shared by any birth. These include the risk of perineal tears and birth events such as cord prolapse or fetal distress. Your Grace provider can discuss the full extent of birth risks and how an unexpected birth complication can be managed if it were to occur.
Is Natural Childbirth Covered by Insurance?
Grace OBGYN is in network with several major insurance providers. We encourage you to speak with our administrative office as well as your insurance company to determine which aspects of natural childbirth, such as your delivery center and obstetrics care, may be covered in your plan.