Natural Childbirth is a labor and delivery that does not include the use of routine medical interventions, particularly anesthesia, the most common forms being epidurals and spinal blocks. It also attempts to minimize surgical interventions such as episiotomies, forceps, and caesarean sections.
A natural childbirth may occur in a hospital while under the supervision of a physician or midwife, or at home assisted by a midwife. Statistics show that in 2008 approximately 39 percent of documented vaginal births in the United States were natural.
Natural Child Birth Options
Pregnant women who are approaching their due date may often become anxious about the process of delivering a healthy baby and what it may entail. In order to relieve any unnecessary anxiety or concern, it is helpful to become informed about childbirth, which options are available and have a birth plan ready for when it is time for delivery.
It is important to speak with your health care provider to explore both natural and medical options for you and your baby. This way you can be prepared and empowered to make a decision. Each birth is different, and the health of mother and baby is ultimately paramount.
The following are different options that are available as an alternative to medical interventions.
Massage stimulates your body to release endorphins that can help ease the pain, reduce anxiety and make contractions feel less intense. Massage can be performed on the shoulders, back, feet/hands and the perineal area.
Breathing and Relaxation Exercises
This can include a variety of methods such as mindfulness and meditation, specific breathing techniques, vocalization, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.
A form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure can be used to apply pressure on specific points to provide pain relief, calm anxiety and encourage an efficient labor. This can be learned and practiced on yourself or by your partner.
Positioning and Movement
Certain birth positions have been favored in natural childbirth including squatting, and being on hands and knees versus the traditional lithotomy – laying on the back with hips and knees flexed – position. Walking, gentle stretching and the use of a birthing ball can also be helpful in the labor process.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Intermittent heat and cold in the form of warm and cold packs may be used on the lower back, lower abdomen and perineum during labor to help with pain and discomfort.
This is an integrative mind-body technique which can aid women to replace fear and expectations of pain with expectations of a safe, gentle and comfortable birth. It can be self-performed or performed by a partner using deep breathing, vocabulary cues or visualization.
When it comes to childbirth today, women have a variety of options to explore and choose from. It is important that you feel as comfortable, prepared and relaxed as possible when preparing for your labor and delivery.
Being educated about both natural and traditional medical birth options will allow you and your doctor to make an informed plan that best suits you and your baby’s needs.
Please don’t hesitate to call with any further questions or concerns you may have regarding Natural Childbirth.