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Now that you’re pregnant, it’s time to really think about how you want to give birth to your baby. There are several options available to you: natural birth, medicated birth (analgesics or anesthetics), or a cesarean birth. Today, more and more women want to have natural births because of all the benefits there are for both mom and baby. You may have considered a natural birth too, but are unsure if you will be able to handle it. Well, there are lots of different approaches to laboring without medication. So if natural childbirth is something you’ve been considering but haven’t decided on yet, here are twelve great reasons to give natural childbirth a try.
1. Your Freedom of Movement
When you decide to have an epidural for your labor and birth you are confining yourself to the bed. With an epidural they will give you a bladder catheter so that your bladder can empty, you have external monitors (or potentially internal monitors if you water has broken and your doctor prefers that) to see how your baby is “handling” labor, you have an IV for your fluids and any other medications that they may need to administer (its common to also have Pitocin since an epidural can slow down labor), and you have a blood pressure cuff to check your blood pressure every 15 to 30 minutes. Besides your lower half of your body being numb, there is no way you can really move since you are being tethered by so many different things. The only positions you have as an option are what side do you want to lie on while you are in bed. And if baby is not tolerating one side well (meaning his/her heart rate is too high or too low) you may be stuck on one side the whole time. And the only pushing option you have is flat on your back.
With a natural birth you have the freedom to move, which is a great thing! Movement during labor is your friend. Gravity is helping you bring baby down and the more you move, the sooner you will have your baby.
2. More Control of Your Birth
If you decide to have a natural birth, you have more options available to you, which allows you to be more of a participant in your labor. You then have many different options to relieve discomfort/pain during labor available to you, like massage, counter-pressure, hydrotherapy, hypnotherapy, music, movement, visualizations, different positions like the birth ball or walking the halls, hot and cold therapy, you name it!
When you have an epidural, or other medications for pain relief, it gives you a higher chance of needing more interventions (like an epidural, breaking your water, having an oxygen mask, vacuum extraction and/or forceps), which more than likely you will not have a say if it has now become a medical necessity. What once was a convenience and a choice for your comfort that you made in the beginning now is like a rolling snowball and turns into more medical necessities that you may not have wanted to help you give birth.
3. Reduces Your Chances of a C-section or Other Interventions
I do always tell my clients that baby does determine how he or she wants to be born. He/she may be all tangled up in their cord, he/she may be breech, etc. There are things that are unavoidable that require a c-section. However, there are things that you can do to prevent yourself from having a c-section and a huge one is having a natural childbirth. When labor is allowed to progress on its own, in its own time-frame, and the woman is allowed to respond naturally to the pain she is in, labor tends to go smoother and needs less interventions. Unfortunately, women who labor flat on their backs, women who are induced earlier than when their bodies are ready, and women who are not assertive and in control of their labor may be more likely to end up having a c-section. It’s true. I’ve seen it.
4. A Shorter Labor
When you use an epidural or pain medications, you may not be able to feel contractions or pain, which I know is the whole point! But because of this, you will also lose your natural instincts on what to do to help your body and labor progress. Walking, rocking, squatting, or changing positions help your baby to descend and speed up your labor. When you feel that it’s time to push, you also push a lot better and faster which makes your pushes more effective because you can feel the urge of where to push. Women who have epidurals may not have that urge or have complete control or the strength since their lower body is numb which causes them to have sometimes a longer labor.
5. A Faster Recovery
After giving birth with an epidural, it takes time for the medication to wear off and for you to be able to get up and move around. Some women also experience what is known as a spinal headache after having an epidural and their body can start itching during labor and after, which is a common side effect. Some women also experience issues in their lower back for weeks/years to come where the epidural was placed.
When a woman delivers naturally she may feel better almost instantly after giving birth and she can get up and move around shortly after delivery, or whenever she is ready.
With a cesarean it’s important to remember that it is a major abdominal surgery. A c-section can make it difficult to care for your baby in the first few weeks postpartum because you’re also recovery from surgery. After a vaginal birth with medications your body needs to recover from the birth and clean the medication out of your system. Depending on the timing of your medications, your baby may also need to clear some of the medications out of his/her system. A natural childbirth gives you both the best chances for a speedy recovery.
6. To Experience Real Labor
I love the quote, “There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm. It’s so true. The labor experience is not just about experiencing pain, it’s about knowing what labor feels like, and knowing what you and your body are capable of.
Unlike some medical professionals say, labor controlled and maintained by Pitocin is not the same as your own natural contractions. Your medical team may say that Pitocin emulates the exact same results and patterns as your own natural contractions would, but that is definitely not the case. It’s a lot more intense and much stronger than your own contractions would be. Experiencing what your body can do, what your body is capable of is an incredible thing.
7. It’s Better For Baby
A HUGE reason to try for a natural childbirth is so that your baby can avoid having unnecessary and potentially dangerous medications pass through his/her system. By avoiding pain medications your baby will be born more alert and more active than babies that have been exposed to pain medications.
8. Less Risks For Mom and Baby
Even though serious complications from epidurals are extremely rare, they can happen. Likewise, using other pain medications during labor (such as Nubain, Demerol, Stadol, etc.) also comes with risks. Pain medications can lower your blood pressure as well as your baby’s, can cause respiratory depression for both mom and baby, can slow down your labor, and can make you feel nauseous or dizzy. Using medications during labor adds risks that are not otherwise present in birth. Having a natural birth decreases your chances and removes a lot of these issues.
9. A More Satisfying Birth Experience
Most women are thrilled to see their new babies, no matter how their baby was born. I am all about women having the birth that they want, no matter what choices they make because it’s all about them and their baby. I will say though, women who have natural childbirths often report feeling more satisfied and happy with their birth experience. With this it also has been proven to reduce their chances of having postpartum depression.
10. Breastfeeding is Easier and More Successful
Babies who are not exposed to pain medications are more alert after birth and this helps them to be more successful with breastfeeding. They latch better and feed longer. When you don’t have those medications in your system, you also have an easier time as well. When your body is on heavy medications, it’s hard for your body to understand that it’s time to make milk.
11. Increases Your Confidence
Preparing for a natural childbirth involves strengthening who you are as a person, learning how to say no, to stand up for yourself and your wants and desires. It doesn’t mean you become rude or pushy, but it does mean you don’t allow yourself to be told what to do by people with no authority over you, your body, and your baby.
12. Why Not Try?
Most new moms wonder how bad the pain is and whether or not they will be able to handle it. There really is no way for you to know how your labor will be, how much pain you will have, or whether or not you can handle it until you actually try it. Even if you’re an experienced mom and have been through labor before, every labor is different. Why not take some classes, prepare your body, learn different comfort techniques, and give natural childbirth a try and see how it goes? If you are at a hospital, pain medications are there if you need them and if you are at home or at a birth center, a hospital is close by if you really need/want them. It doesn’t hurt to try though, right?
These are my 12 reasons to try for a natural birth. What were some reasons why you tried for a natural birth?