A natural birth is a labour and delivery that does not involve any medical intervention –such as pain relief, episiotomy, vacuum or forcepts, or Caesarean. There are many ways to combat the pain of contractions and the intensity of labour without compromising on your commitment to a natural birth; women have been delivering babies since the beginning of time and pain relief and intervention are relatively modern phenomenas.
Choosing the way that you give birth is a very personal decision. Some women prefer to use pain relief or opt for a caesarean (if offered). Other women feel differently and are more concerned by the thought of an epidural, than the pain of labour. It is a very personal decision and should be made fully informed and taking in to consideration your history, health and the health of your baby.
If considering a natural birth you will need to think about how you plan to manage the pain of labour. It is worth reminding yourself that labour and birth are a completely natural bodily function for a woman. Although most women have medical examinations and give birth in a hospital, pregnancy and birth are very different from any other medical issue. This is because they are not an illness but are a very natural and normal procedure.
The pain of labour is unlike any other pain. Pain in other circumstances is a warning that something isn’t quite right. But pain in labour is simply a signal that the woman’s body is working through the process of giving birth. It is not a pain that needs to be fought, but rather, should be worked with. This does not mean that the pain of labour is any less than other ‘warning’ type pain, but this perspective may help with how you respond to the pain.
As well as natural birth pain relief, there are also methods of natural induction. These include:
Following these methods can help your labour progress without synthetic induction (such as a pitocin drip).
There are many benefits to a natural birth. Women who birth naturally feel very empowered by the experience and it increases their confidence in getting to know and look after their new born baby. There are benefits to the baby as well, in that there is no risk of it being affected by some of the pain relief drugs that are used. Recovery from a natural birth is often faster than when intervention is used. But with all this in mind, nature is it’s own force and things happen in labour that often can’t be controlled. So while a focus on a natural birth is a worthy goal, the wellbeing of mother and baby is the primary goal and decisions should be made with this in mind.