You’ve probably heard different folks talk about the dos and don’ts of their pregnancies. As health-conscious women, we want to do what’s best for our children and our bodies, to honor the sacred time we share nurturing our children throughout our pregnancy.
One of the most beneficial ways to take our power back over our health during pregnancy is to look at the benefits of having our children naturally. When I say “natural” I realize that having a baby is natural any circumstance because women are capable of growing a baby and giving birth. Natural birth,to me, is having the baby without medical interventions or medications.
Why Natural Birth was a Natural Choice for Me
On our 5th pregnancy, my husband and I decided to go a different route. We adopted for a full-blown natural birth at home. It was our 5th natural birth, but this time we decided NOT to head to the hospital.
All my other kiddos were delivered unmedicated at a hospital, at the heartfelt request of my hubby. You can read two of their birth stories HERE and HERE. In this house, it’s always going to be a team thing. We have grown a lot together. It was so exciting to have a baby at home with a midwife’s expertise and a doula’s comfort and confidence.
I was beyond excited for the home birth experience! I’m sure you’ve got some questions about what natural births look like—and there are a couple of different shapes each woman’s natural pregnancy might take, even if they end in an emergency C-Section.
I gotta tell you though, I think this decision has been so good. Especially after I’ve discovered so much about the process through my own deliveries, reading, and birthing experiences. You really do learn something new with every child, from whether your contractions are playing mind games, to if your natural birth is particularly painful or intense.
There are lots of directions our pregnancies can take, and different ways natural birth can go. You may be wondering just what women mean when they talk about the process. What does it really entail? What alternative routes are there available for new mamas?
What is a Natural Birth?
Natural birth is an approach to your pregnancy delivery that is not reliant on pain medications and epidurals. This method seeks alternatives from numbing the pain of delivery to a more conscious and present place, encouraging mothers to bring their newborn baby from her nurturing body into her loving arms. People have been creating and delivering life for centuries without pain medications, and there is something lovely and heartfelt about pursuing that way for me. Natural birth requires that we be present and aware of what is happening throughout the process. It takes bravery and research to find what works for you, and knowing that there are options on how you approach the process is comforting but also very empowering!
I find that choosing to prepare for a natural vaginal birth was an intuitive choice with all my pregnancies. Some of the different routes new mothers might take vary, too. It is important to remember that picking a place to have your natural birth is also a part of the process.
If you have more risk of complication or think that you may need an emergency c-section, consider going to a hospital or birthing center. That way, if the unexpected does arise and you require emergency medical intervention, you could switch gears during your delivery with ease and grace.
Natural births can take place in many locations and in different ways, too. It is really all about what you need and want for your delivery experience, and what your body is communicating with you. Some mamas prefer birthing tubs, while others have a more effective time squatting for their baby to get in a good position on their way out of the body. Some options include:
- Birthing Centers
- Home Deliveries
- Birthing Tub Deliveries
- Using a Squatting Bar
- Reclined Delivery
Why Women Choose Natural Birth
Women who choose natural birth often do so because they want to have more autonomy over their deliveries. Some crunchy mamas just don’t like the way the pain medication fogs their perception. Some women have allergies to pain-reducing medications, or they are not comfortable receiving an invasive epidural. Take some time to develop your birthing plan, and include some alternative routes, just in case!
We can’t always predict what will happen when we get there, especially for new mothers or if you have a higher risk of complication. There is no shame in adapting to emergencies—and with natural birth, you will still always have a medical professional by your side, whether it be a midwife or an OB/GYN. In hospital settings, too, if a midwife needs an extra hand, she can always call for the OB/GYN to lend some extra helping hands.
Benefits of Natural Birth
There’s a lot of good that comes from making the choice to forgo medical intervention and medications. A lot of these benefits are biological for our newborns.
- An Improved Microbiome: When babies are born vaginally, their microbiomes are diverse. They have more resistance to allergies, less risk of asthma, and less risk of diabetes.
- Jumpstart Baby’s Immune System: Vaginal deliveries offer babies the protection of healthy bacteria—keeping the good stuff in while leaving bad bacteria out, ultimately building powerful immune systems.
- Reducing Obesity Risk: With all the sugar available to young children and the growing concern for healthy weights and healthy minds, natural vaginal birth can give our newborns an early advantage to their weight. Researchers theorize that the improvement comes from healthy gut bacteria, and the limited exposure to early infection due to the strength of their immune systems.
- Steadier Heart Rate: When mama takes pain medication, it can travel through her bloodstream and into her child’s. This narcotic medicine can influence the baby’s heart rate during delivery. Remember, any sort of change you would see taking a narcotic will also be present in your baby. Factors like disorientation, drowsiness, and changes in blood pressure and breath are all factors to consider with your baby during delivery. This is so important to keep in mind because it takes babies much longer to expel the effects of narcotics from their bodies than mom. If you’ve ever had anesthesia as an adult, those effects can linger much longer than we expect. This is a huge benefit in natural vaginal delivery over an epidural or c-section.
- A Clear Head Post-Delivery: If you have ever taken a medication that made you feel a little funky or been subject to needing anesthesia, there is a huge fog that comes as a cost after your delivery is all said and done. Having the peace of clarity is wonderful and allows you to be truly present with your newborn post-partum. You can really enjoy your time together now that your new little one is no longer sharing space with you.
- Reducing Complications for Mom: Epidurals can increase the risk of needing a cesarean, experiencing a perennial tear, instrumental birth, need for Pitocin, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic floor issues. Dodging some of these issues from an epidural is incredibly reassuring.
- Better Outcomes Breastfeeding: Pain medications can interfere with latching success early on. Women are more likely to succeed when they do not have narcotic pain medication interfering with their babies’ reception toward nursing. Pain medications can also make your baby sleepy, and sleepy newborns aren’t always interested in nursing. C-sections can also make it difficult for babies to get proper nutrition, since mama’s recovery takes energy, too.
Having a Handle on Labor Pains
Birth is a natural process, and pain during labor can be reframed as a signal. A dear friend and fellow blogger Mama Natural Genevieve has a great perspective on ways crunchy mamas can approach the pain as messages for adjustment during labor, which really gives a handle on the fear that comes from the idea of how bad something might hurt. I think of when we get shots from doctors, where the anxiety can be more than the event itself. Genevieve has an amazing natural birth course, if you want to check it out HERE.
There are plenty of ways we can build bravery and confidence with birth, all without pain medication. With a little consciousness and being present, you might find these methods to really help you on your birth journey.
- Check out childbirth classes
- Explore hypnobirthing
- Get a great doula
- Practice prenatal yoga
- Pelvic floor exercise routines
- Don’t forget to deep breathe
- Tub & water births
- Acupressure & acupuncture
- Regular walking
- Massage therapy
- Essential oils
- Embrace gravity and squat
- Using birthing props
Remember, when it comes to choosing natural birth to follow up with your natural pregnancy, you have choices and control over your fate to choose what is the best way to bring your healthy, happy baby into your family. The pain of birth does not have to be numbed with narcotics or an epidural. Paying attention to your body’s needs and being aware of the benefits of being clear during labor speak volumes.
Real Food RN has plenty of direction if you are feeling a little lost. Take your time to explore what I have learned on health and motherhood as a natural mama of five beautiful children and an RN for 15 years.
Also, my friend Genevieve, from the blog Mama Natural, has an amazing natural birth course that will guide you through everything you need to know to have the birth you desire! I HIGHLY encourage taking this course, I took it twice! CLICK HERE to check it out.