Women choose to birth naturally because they trust their bodies and feel that childbirth is a natural, normal experience that they are made to go through. Historically the first way to give birth, natural childbirth is a philosophy that, if adequately prepared, women can give birth to their child naturally without unnecessary medical intervention. Since the beginning of time women have given birth at home, generally assisted by a midwife, local doctor, or members of the woman’s family.
Statistics show that an interest in natural childbirth declined around the early 1900s when more women began going to the hospital for labor and delivery, spurred by increasing availability of hospitals and the notion that a medical childbirth was safer and less painful.
Pros and cons
Because natural childbirth is noninvasive, there is little chance that a mother and her newborn baby would be harmed by any medicine given during the labor process. Giving birth naturally has given many women a sense of empowerment during labor and long afterward because the endorphins in her body provide a charge that overpowers her perception of pain. Without any drugs in her system, the mother won’t be sleepy or disoriented during labor and birth but instead will be awake and active, free to move around, change positions, and do things that help her to remain comfortable, which will in turn aid her with the labor and delivery process.
Another positive aspect mothers like about natural childbirth is that they don’t automatically need to be hooked up to an IV or machines to monitor heart rates and blood pressure, so there is more freedom to move about or use the restroom instead of a catheter. Plus, a mother that chooses to deliver her baby naturally is less likely than women who choose epidurals to need a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery or Pitocin to speed up labor or made contractions stronger.
There are disadvantages with a natural childbirth, though. Most of the relaxation techniques do not eliminate pain completely, so you have to be willing to feel and work with the pain. In the case of a prolonged labor or complicated labor, sometimes drugs and medical intervention can help speed up the process.
Types of natural childbirth
•Hypnobirthing: Hypnobirthing is a new, modern way of natural childbirth education enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques that dates back to ancient times. It places an emphasis on pregnancy and childbirth, pre-birth parenting, and the unborn baby’s consciousness and teaches women to use their natural instincts so they have an easier, safer birthing experience. Hypnobirthing is based on the work of English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, author of 1944’s “Childbirth Without Fear,” which uses hypnosis during labor to ease fear, tension, and pain that make labor more difficult.
•Lamaze: The Lamaze philosophy of birth states that “birth is normal, natural, and healthy” and that “women have a right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.” This method, which has been used in the United States since the late 1950s, was developed by Ferdinand Lamaze, a French obstetrician, and has remained one of the most commonly known childbirth classes. In the early days Lamaze focused on breathing techniques to cope with labor pains, but the vision has since expanded to educate women on how to respond to their pain to increase comfort and assist with the labor process. This method focuses on providing women with information and tools so she’ll feel comfortable and confident during the childbirth process, as well as being informed about pain medications and other medical interventions.
•Bradley Method: The Bradley Method, named after American obstetrician Robert Bradley who developed the method in the late 1940s, embraces the idea that childbirth is a natural, normal process that women could handle without pain medication and routine medical interventions if they were adequately prepared. The 12-week class schedule is more intense than other childbirth education classes and is centered around the idea that it takes months to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for childbirth. The Bradley Method emphasizes the importance of partners as effective coaches and addresses all of the aspects of natural childbirth, pregnancy, and postpartum issues.
•Unassisted childbirth: Unassisted childbirth takes place at home without the assistance of a physician, obstetrician, or midwife; trust is placed in research and education about the birth process.
•Water birth: The process of giving birth in water, this method is believed to be safe and provide many benefits to the laboring woman, including pain relief. Water birth first came about in the 1960s with research from Russian Igor Charkovsky and French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer, who thought that immersing newborns in water would help ease their transition from the womb to the outside world.