More and more women are opting for a natural birth when the time comes to deliver their babies. So why are the statistics rising? Here we’ve put together everything you need to know about natural childbirth.
What is a natural birth?
The term ‘natural birth’ can mean different things to different people. For many women, a natural birth indicates a labour without any medical intervention, such as pain relief, culminating in a vaginal birth. Whereas for others, a natural birth is a vaginal birth regardless of what has happened during the first stages of labour or if any pain relief has been used.
In the UK, midwives and obstetricians use the terms ‘natural birth’ and ‘normal birth’ interchangeably, but favour is taken to ‘normal birth’ to make it easier to record any interventions.
Generally, a natural childbirth indicates a woman who does not experience any one or more of the following:
- induction of labour (with prostaglandins, syntocinon drip or by having their waters broken)
- epidural or spinal
- forceps or ventouse
- caesarean section
- general anaesthetic
What are some of the advantages of a natural childbirth?
While not every birth can end in a vagina birth, the truth is, in most cases, women are perfectly capable of giving birth without any interventions. That is because birth is a normal biological function.
With the right preparation and support, there are many benefits of a natural childbirth, including:
- Women feel a strong sense of empowerment during labour and a great sense of accomplishment once baby has been born. Many women find they enter a meditative labour state that is controlled by the natural cascade of endorphins.
- There is no loss of sensation or alertness. Labour pain is a natural aid in delivering a baby and can help the expectant mother be present and proactive when pushing the baby out. Having full sensation lets her know when to change positions so baby can continue down the birth canal.
- Most natural childbirth techniques are not invasive, so there’s little potential for harm or side effects to the baby or expectant mother.
- Without an epidural, women are less likely to require interventions such as induced labour or forceps delivery.
- A partner can be present to help manage pain. Many women decide to have a natural birth at home so they can be in a calming, familiar environment. Changing positions, meditating, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, or using a birthing pool are all very common and effective ways to cope with labour pain.
What are the disadvantages of labouring without pain relief?
Unlike an epidural, natural pain reduction techniques do not get rid of pain completely. Women who feel they may not be able to cope with feeling and working with the pain may be more comfortable opting for drug interventions.
Additionally, if the expectant mother experiences a prolonged labour or a complicated labour, then natural approaches may not suffice and interventions will likely be required.
Preparing for a natural birth
With the right preparation and support, any woman can opt for a natural birth and feel comfortable and happy with their choice. A birth plan is a good way for you to effectively communicate your preferences for your birth with your midwife, and the rest of your birthing team.
Whether you choose to birth in a hospital, at home or in a birth centre, your midwife and birthing partner will be on hand to guide you through natural childbirth.