5 Reasons to Choose a Natural Birth
I am a huge advocate of natural birth. And, having recently given birth myself, I remember how daunting it can be as a parent-to-be wading through all of the information on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, trying to make the best decisions for our family. So, in the following list I’ve tried to quickly explain what became my top reasons for choosing natural birth–
- Hormones: the hormones released during labor play critical roles in the birth process itself. Because this is a quick guide I won’t get into specifics about each of these (i.e. oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline and noradrenaline, and prolactin), but the basic idea is that when we trust nature and allow it to take its course, our bodies release these hormones in the perfect amounts and at the perfect times, both during and after birth. These incredible hormones, which cannot be recreated by drugs or other interventions, contribute to the following:- controlling pain management,
- signaling uterine contractions that tell baby to move down the birth canal,
- creating a feeling of euphoria both during and after birth,
- providing clear-headedness after birth for both mom AND baby, which plays a pivotal role in breastfeeding and bonding,
- minimizing blood loss when placenta separates,
- and maximizing the potential for a successful breastfeeding relationship.
- Limiting or completely negating the “Cascade of Interventions”: briefly, the Cascade of Interventions refers to the reality that even a seemingly minor intervention (say, stripping of membranes) can disrupt the natural course of labor and birth and can ultimately lead to further intervention(s) and problems (the documentary The Business of Being Born does a great job explaining this further). Opting for a natural birth may eliminate the danger of ending up with unwanted and unnecessary interventions.
- Due Date Variations: technically, this category falls under the “Cascade of Interventions” heading, but we now have updated data of which all parents-to-be should be aware. Recent studies illustrate that the length of pregnancy can vary naturally by as much as FIVE weeks. Currently the “42 weeks” deadline looms large and can create a feeling of impending doom in that most care providers typically want to “move things along” at this point, which means intervening; and remember, more often than not, one intervention leads to the next. If due dates are more flexible than we once thought, parents can avoid intervening to induce labor and can simply let nature take its course. The following link provides more information: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2013/9/science-pregnancy/
- Optimal Positioning aids the Birth Process: a mother who births naturally has more options in regards to movement and birth positioning which significantly impacts the birth process. If a mother’s legs are numb from an epidural, for example, she most likely will be lying down or sitting up on a hospital bed, not walking or swaying, lunging or squatting, finding the most comfortable position to labor and birth. Being able to choose how she labors can align the baby to move speedily through the birth canal which can also reduce discomfort.
- Birth as an Empowering Experience: women’s bodies were designed to push out babies, but we have been intimidated by a medicalized model of birth—one that says women need help getting a baby out because our bodies are “broken” (small pelvis, first-time mom hasn’t “proven” herself, baby “too big,” etc.) and that the doctor always knows best. BUT—when we educate ourselves we learn we have choices, and we can make important decisions for our babies and our bodies. Birth can be intensely empowering when we trust women’s bodies to do what they have been doing since time began. I am not implying that birthing with intervention is lesser. Simply put, birthing without intervention— where mom and baby work together, ebbing and flowing to an ages-old rhythm of birth—can provide a woman with an entirely new perspective on her strength and abilities. Oftentimes this heightened self-confidence transfers to other aspects of life (say, motherhood and “mommy instincts”) and it can change the way we view ourselves as women. Natural childbirth certainly has been the most transformative experience of my life to date.
For more information, the following are some of my favorite birth resources—
So what do you think? Are you going the natural route? Are you definitely getting the drugs? Have experiences you want to share? Leave them in the Comments section below, because we’d love to know your thoughts!natural birth, natural vaginal birth, pregnancy, pregnancy advice