Putting together a birth plan can sometimes be overwhelming. There are so many aspects to consider such as the location of the birth, what support system to have in place, and the methods of pain management. Over 80 percent of women and birthing people in America have an epidural during labor. However, there has recently been a trend of a growing number of birthing people who are choosing to go the natural birth route. Although all births are considered natural, the term “natural birth” is generally considered to be enduring the process of labor and delivery without any medication or intervention.
Most take this natural birth approach to remain in control of their bodies as much as possible and to engage as an active participant in the labor and birth process. With the proper education, support, and preparation, women and birthing people are ready to work through the inevitable pain and discomfort of childbirth without fear or anxiety. There are many natural options when it comes to pain management and relief during childbirth. Some of the more physical methods include massage, walking or moving around, the use of a birth ball, a warm water tub (hydrotherapy), or hot and cold compresses. There are also more mental-oriented strategies such as self-hypnosis, visualization, meditation, and the use of music. Sustaining this process of natural childbirth can have many benefits for both the mother or birthing person and baby.
During a natural birth delivery, women are less likely to have severe vaginal tears, and therefore, tend to have more easeful recoveries. There is also no loss of sensation, which allows the birthing person to be aware and alert, so it becomes easier to find a comfortable position and to more actively push when the time comes. The need for risky interventions decreases. When given an epidural, birthing people can experience a cascade of interventions leading to cesarean birth: the need for Pitocin to augment the labor, persistent posterior baby positioning, and pelvic floor problems. Natural birth can also decrease the length of the labor time, as an epidural may extend the pushing phase of labor by a couple of hours. Many birthing people feel a sense of empowerment and accomplishment after the natural childbirth process and feel that they can bond more easily with their babies and breastfeed more efficiently.
As there are no medications used in natural birth, babies are then born without these drugs in their systems, which could cause drowsiness, disorientation, and potential difficulties with heart rate and breathing. Vaginally born babies also tend to have fewer allergies, less risk of obesity, less risk of asthma, and a stronger immune system because they have been exposed to the vaginal microbiota which provide immune factor to the newborn.
There is no such thing as an unnatural birth, all birth is natural, so whatever birthing plan is right for one may not be right for another. And the ability to adjust your plan or preferences is always important. The true nature of confidence and empowerment in childbirth stems from one’s ability to choose their path and feel supported throughout their journey, whatever that journey may bring.
Kerry Tuschhoff, founder and director of Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis, is a nationally renowned speaker and writer on a wide range of women’s pregnancy and childbirth concerns. Her subjects include prenatal and childbirth choices, informed consent issues, health and low-risk status concerns, comfort in childbirth, the power of birth language and midwifery advocacy. As a childbirth educator for 30 years, a doula and hypnotherapist, Kerry has developed many educational programs for birthing mothers, medical and childbirth professionals and hypnotherapists. These efforts have become immensely popular and have started a chain-reaction of interest to change the way women give birth, how newborns are cared for, and the way natural childbirth is perceived by the general public as well as the medical community. Kerry created a very comprehensive natural childbirth program of her own; Hypnobabies Childbirth Education. This unique program has trained hundreds of thousands of women to use medical-grade hypnosis techniques and give birth unmedicated in a much easier and more comfortable way.