There is a lot of interest in natural childbirth these days. You hear about it on the news, in films or from other parents. If you are expecting your first child, you may be wondering if natural birthing is for you.
What is Natural Childbirth?
Natural childbirth is the process of having a baby without using medications or surgery. Some people may take it so far as to describe it as a birth without any interventions at all.
While this is seen as radical by some people, it can truly be a beneficial process to both mother and baby.
Advantages of Natural Childbirth for Both Mom & Baby
There are many advantages to natural childbirth. Many women feel more in control and empowered during the birthing process as they can move around freely, and eat and drink as desired.
Most comfort measures used in natural childbirth, such as massage, water immersion and acupressure, are non-invasive, so there are no side effects for you or baby.
Instead of feeling groggy, which can happen with some pain management medications, you remain alert. In addition, your natural hormones can flow as nature intended, preparing both you and your baby for birth.
If your partner wants to be involved, there is more for them to do during natural childbirth.
They can rub your back, be a stable person to lean on during contractions, and help you with positive affirmations.
Because pain medications that you take during labor can pass through to the baby, natural childbirth allows your baby to be more alert once he or she is born.
They are able to actively nurse, and make eye contact with you and your partner. Beginning the breastfeeding process may be easier when baby is alert and responsive after a natural birth.
Disadvantages of Natural Childbirth
Comfort measures used in natural childbirth do not remove pain; they only reduce your perception of it. It is up to you to learn how to work with your labor pains.
If you have complications, it may become impossible to have a natural birth since many interventions that may be required may increase your pain.
In long labors, you could become exhausted and need more assistance. Natural childbirth is hard work that must be prepared for ahead of time.
Pain Management in Natural Childbirth
There are many ways to manage your labor pains in natural childbirth.
Try changing positions to manage the pain or staying upright and active since lying flat in bed can be a quite painful position to labor in.
Practice breathing, visualization and meditation or consider using hypnosis techniques which many women have found to be very effective.
Using a tub of water or the shower can help, since the feeling of the water on your skin can compete with pain messages being sent to your brain.
In additon, massage techniques such as effleurage, which is a light, stroking touch, can also send these competing messages.
The brain can only process so much at one time, and messages sent from the skin will arrive faster than internal messages.
Hot or cold packs, acupressure, and other comfort measure techniques can help you relax, send competing messages to the brain, and help you cope with the pain.
Most importantly, having someone to support you can go a long way in helping you deal with pain.
Whether this is your partner, a family member or friend, or professional labor support, having someone there to support you and help out is very comforting.
Midwives & Doulas
Hiring a doula or midwife to assist at your birth can help you succeed at natural childbirth.
A trained doula can lower the incidence of pain medication use and surgical birth, according to studies.
Hiring a midwife as your care provider can help as well. Midwives are trained in normal birth techniques.
They are less likely to resort to high tech measures, especially if you are birthing in at home or in a birth center.
As you prepare for your own labor, it is important to remember that childbirth is not a contest.
Things may change and your birth may not end up as you anticipated.
You must be prepared to go with the flow and respond to circumstances as they arise while heeding the advice of your health care provider.
Ultimately, what’s important is that your baby is born healthy.