There are plenty of reasons why moms-to-be might consider a natural birth over a traditional in-hospital procedure. The thought of being less groggy from medicine or having the ability to move around as you please are certainly attractive thoughts for delivery. That being said, there are plenty of things to consider before deciding whether or not to have a natural birth. Here’s a quick overrun of everything you should know about a natural birth.
What is a natural birth?
There’s no one specific definition, but a natural birth is the idea of having as little extra technology involved as possible. For many people, this means opting for a home birth, or delivery in a birth center, rather than at a hospital. Hospitals can certainly be an intimidating setting, and giving birth at home can feel a lot more comforting.
Medicine is another factor. Some people prefer to undergo as little medical intervention as possible, and sometimes even opt for no sort of anesthesia at all. This, of course, has its benefits and its drawbacks.
There are plenty of other factors that might change if you consider a home birth. Alternative delivery positions will likely be available, like squatting or being on all fours, and even giving birth in a warm bathtub. If you do opt for no medicine, there will be other alternatives you might like to choose from, like hydrotherapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and massage.
The benefits of a natural birth
There are certainly benefits to a natural birth. Some we’ve mentioned, and perhaps the most important is that you’ll have more control over the process. You’ll be able to make a lot of significant decisions, like whether or not any medicine will be used or how you’d like the process to go, from delivery positions to who’s in the room.
During a natural birth, and especially a home birth, you’ll likely need the support of someone you trust. One benefit of a natural birth is that the baby might very well form a stronger bond with your birthing partner, as they’ll be a much more integral part of the process.
Since you won’t have to be confined to a bed, another benefit to be found in natural birth is the ability to move around more or less freely. Many claim that this helps deal with the pain, especially since you’ll be able to pace around or even take a nice shower.
The lack of drugs also has its benefits. For one, it might make pushing easier. Since there aren’t any (or less) drugs to kill the pain, you’ll likely be able to feel your body better, which can help activate the right muscles to push more efficiently. Not being on drugs also makes you feel less groggy and return to normalcy more quickly, which will likely help you get up and running again sooner than later.
The risks of a natural birth
A natural birth can be a great thing, but there are drawbacks to consider, too. Most of these work out to be health risks or complications.
For one, and this one should be expected, you’re going to feel everything. If you opt for no anesthetics or drugs of any sort to numb the pain, then you’re going to feel the pain, and a lot of women have reported that this pain ended up being a lot more intense than they had originally expected. If the pain gets to be too much, you should always be able to let your practitioner know and ask for an epidural.
The rest of the risks are more so what happens should things go wrong. If everything goes smoothly, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. However, one of the biggest benefits of being in a hospital is, should anything go unexpectedly, you’re surrounded by medical professionals and medical equipment to treat just about anything at a moment’s notice. You certainly do not have this luxury at home. Likely for this reason, the risk of complications, and specifically perinatal death climbs to be two-to-three times greater during a natural birth. If any sort of complication arises that requires medical equipment, either your or your baby’s health will depend greatly on how quickly and safely you can be rushed to the hospital.
In order to avoid this last risk, consider asking if the hospital or birthing center offers natural birth options. Many do, and if the setting isn’t a deal-breaker for you, this can be the safest natural birth option.
Natural births aren’t for everyone
Now, even after considering the pros and cons, natural births still aren’t recommended for everyone. Any risk for a complication during delivery should be of great importance to anybody considering a natural birth. Signs that natural birth might not be the best option for you include:
- You’re expecting more than a single child
- You are preterm
- You have experienced pregnancy complications
- You are considered overweight, or have gained too much weight during pregnancy
- You have a baby in the breech position, or you need a C-section for any reason
- You are a group B strep carrier
Ask your practitioner if natural birth is for you in general, and especially if you experience any of these conditions or any others that might come to your attention.