Many women go into labour aiming for some vague idea of a ‘natural’ childbirth. We write birth plans expressing our wishes, and go into hospital believing that we will have the birth we want, because either we’ve read a little about things like Vit K and Gas and Air, or we have nothing but trust that the Ob, doctor or midwife really has our best interest at heart. Why then do so many natural births go ‘wrong’, leading to intervention upon intervention and often, finally in a caesarean section, and what can you do to prevent it?
Over a series of six posts, I’m going to look at the benefits of a natural birth, natural homebirth vs. natural hospital birth, active preparation for childbirth, herbs for natural childbirth, what no book tells you about childbirth, and what no book tells you about being a new mother.
Now, before I go any further, I must say this: I am not a doctor. I am not a midwife. I am not even a doula. I am just a mother to a little girl that I gave birth to in to my own hands, naturally in a pool in my kitchen. I am a woman who had a difficult pregnancy and had a lot of time to research, study and learn, and what follows are my experiences as I believe that the best gifts you can give a pregnant woman are information that is easy to understand, and a feeling of empowerment. I’m including my birth video here to share with you the only experience I’m speaking from. Don’t worry, it’s not gory and there are no uncomfortable scenes.
So – why bother with a natural birth? Isn’t it so much easier to know the date you’re having your baby, go in for a nice clean surgery, and come out with your baby?
Well, yes, I guess, apart from the major abdominal surgery, the minimum of six weeks of discomfort, the scar and the fact that your body doesn’t go through the physiological changes that happen post birth. Also the fact that your baby is literally dragged from a nice, warm, cozy, dark, quiet environment to bright lights, noise, all the while feeling somewhat drowsy. I don’t know much about caesareans, fortunately, but look it up. Natural birth has some great information on the risks of c-sections. Don’t just accept that you ‘have to’ have a caesarean. Even for twin/triplet births. There are many successful vaginal birth stories. Just look on Youtube!
The benefits to the mother and baby in a natural birth are worth the effort alone, in my opinion. Mothers are able to move around freely, which helps manage pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling the mother which position will be best for her. I remember during labour I could not lie down on my back, the pain was too intense there, and as it turned out, my baby was posterior. I had to sit up, on my birth ball, doing figure of 8’s with my hips, which helps the baby to turn the â€˜right’ way round.
When it comes to pushing, being able to feel the rushes as they come makes the mother better equipped to push when the time is right for her and her body, reducing the risk of tearing or the need for episiotomy. I also remember reading that an epidural prolongs your pushing time (transition).
Recovery after natural child is much faster and easier. In my case, I went to work two days later to show off my baby. We went away for the weekend when she was 5 days old, and I was back to yoga and other classes at 5 weeks, only because they wouldn’t allow me to do anything earlier. I walked five miles on the cliffs of Dover at 12 days though. I’m not recommending this for everyone, but I was able.
Endorphins released during birth cause the most amazing, beautiful, dreamy state, the closest thing I’ve ever felt to what a â€˜high’ must feel like. Those endorphins are great for you and as they are released in to the placenta too, they are great for baby!
A drug free birth means babies are more alert and show more interest in breastfeeding, which makes long term breastfeeding so much easier. The mothers I know who’ve had c-sections have all struggled to breastfeed and mothers who’ve had other pain medication often experience the same. Remember, a baby is born with the suckling reflex (which lasts for about an hour). Put a newborn on his/her mother’s stomach and they will actually shimmy their way up to the breast for suckling. They wont do this if there’s been pain medication though.
The most important thing to remember about birth is this: you are a woman, your body was made for this.
The saddest thing about our concept of childbirth and our medicalisation thereof is that women have been led to believe that their bodies don’t work, and that they can’t give birth without help. This is simply not true. Yes, there are cases where women do need help, and there are times when a life-saving caesarean is needed, but those times are much fewer than we are led to believe.
You are a woman. You can give birth. Your body was designed for it, and embracing that ability will be the most empowering, self restoring, healing thing you will ever do for yourself.
Natural Childbirth in Layman’s Terms
loving this post and look forward to the series! I will feature it in Sunday Surf
@Mamapoekie, Thanks darling! The series is all finished now. And thanks for featuring it 🙂
Lovely blog. I am really enjoying it.
Take lots of time to love your little one
Hey Luschka! What a beautiful magical birth – it made me cry (they always do!) Thank you for sharing your birth of Baby K….. precious memories that you should be proud of…. it reminds me of my first witness home-birth when I was starting my training and I try and achieve the same when I am in the unit, I hope when I qualify to continue to believe that mothers bodies – know what they are doing…. and to empower all women to believe they can.
All the best
I had a natural birth, in that I didn’t have a c-section, but I definitely was happy to get my epidural!
I came by to welcome you to SITS! We’re happy to have you with us!
@greedygrace, Thank you for the welcome! Was I featured on the site or something? So many welcomes today! Always appreciated though! And thanks for stopping by and sharing your views! 🙂
Oh, I forgot to tell you that I popped over here from SITS.
This was a very interesting article. Thank you for sharing your views. Mine are a little different. I had two c-sections and if I was to have another child, I would choose to have another one. It just worked for me.
@Jen @ buried with children, Of course! People are different and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, many people who WANT natural birth are convinced that they are not able, or told that they can’t, and sadly, even more are never even told that it’s an option, really.(i.e. in hospitals with a 70% section rate.) My main objectiveis to have all the information I gathered during my pregnancy in one place to make natural birth more accessible to those who might be interested in it. (I hope that made sense!)
Thanks for the welcome! Isn’t this a GREAT community of bloggers?!
Stopping by from SITS to say welcome and we’re glad you joined!
I did a radio show not too long ago on 10 easy steps to prevent a csection also.
It seems like so many people are being subjected to unnecessary or preventable surgical births today!
Stoppin’ by from SITS!
My first baby was a natural childbirth. Not really by choice. I did it all at home, up until that last half hour, when I got to the hospital. I’ve had two more, with the third being an epidural and I have to say that it was my least stressful. With my first, had to whip him off to the nursery to clean out his lungs and administer antibiotics(he’d already passed his meconium and I wasn’t at the hospital long enough to have the antibiotics through an iv for the group b strep that I had), so I didn’t see him for 4 hours. With my epidural baby, everything was calm and I was able to nurse him right away.
Just another view. 🙂
@Shell, Thanks for sharing your view Shell. I am not surprised that you found your first stressful, what with going in to hospital when you were already in transition! That’s totally understandable! You don’t say what the second birth was like but obviously okay enough for you to have a third! ;o) And its great that you were able to nurse your third, it doesn’t always happen that way. My intention here is certainly not to judge or condemn anyone that doens’t have a natural birth, but my hope is to encourage women to know more about birth before going in to it! Thanks for stopping by!
Oh, no, I didn’t think you were judging, just wanted to give another view.
My second, I did have some very short-lasting pain meds. My babies all come very fast. I was induced with my third, even though I was supernervous about it, but by then, we lived an hour away from the hospital, instead of 5 minutes away and we were worried about not making it the hospital in time.
A good start, I look forward to the rest of the series. There is a shocking misunderstanding within maternity services and therefore among the general population, about what is natural and what is intervention. One MW I know of thought that a birth without intervention was just one without pain relief. She had no idea that induction, augmentation, continuous monitoring, ARM, forceps, ventouse etc are all interventions. The NHS in some areas sees these things as “normal” *Doh*
Having had an unnecessary unplanned c-section for my first I can speak from first hand experience of how the system here in the UK routinely lets women down. I am currently involved in campaigning for change in my area. http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=195714221737
@Holly, Thanks for the link Holly, I will have a look! I agree about the understanding of ‘natural’. I have often wondered about the level or type of continuing education that midwves get, because some of those I have dealt with over the course of my pregnancy/early months of motherhood have had some seriously out of date perceptions!
My sons birth was as natural as it could get in a hospital setting, though the contractions started after the drug cervadil was inserted to ripen my cervix for an unplanned induction. I wanted a natural (un-medicated) birth and ended up getting it, though I was hooked up to an IV and got antibiotics for Group B Strep. I didn’t have to stress that fact, since the nurses didn’t even notice that I was in full blown labor until I was 7 cm dilated. You would think that being hooked up in machines showing them how strong my contractions were would be a good indicator, but because I wasn’t in much pain (I have a very high threshold) they must have thought nothing of it.
Overall, I was happy to have done it without drugs, but it was not the experience I wished it had been. There are times right now where I wish that I could have a homebirth w/ this pregnancy, but there are no mid-wives in the area and I don’t think that I could convince my husband to it either. So it will be another hospital birth, but this time I will be more prepared.
@Michaela, Thanks for the comment Michaela. I’d be really interested in your comments on my next posts, once I get them up! You sound like you’d have the right experience for it, certainly. Good luck with this pregnancy and with the preparations for the birth. Oh, and maybe your husband should read my husband’s version of our birth story. You never know!!
I am expecting baby #6 in June and thankfully have never had a C-section. I just can’t imagine why people would choose to have one.
Welcome to SITS! It’s great to have you in the SITStahood!
@Sandy, Wow Sandy! It sounds like you should be writing this series. Congrutulations on number 6! I’d be so happy to have your thoughts on the rest of the series once its posted. You certainly do have the right experience!
Thank you for sharing such a very personal experience. I don’t have children, but if I do have any in future, I don’t want to be drugged. So it’s great to hear a positive experience from the natural side.
@Rachel Cotterill, Thank you Rachel! I hope you’ll stop by the rest of the series and see how you can do your best to prepare yourself for that natural birth, when the time does come!
My daughter’s birth was natural except for the IV that the hospital insisted I have “just in case”. If I had it to do over again I would have used a midwife and not done the hospital at all. As it was I too afraid to be without a level 4 NIC-U like they say you need in the books. All in all, I was disgusted at how I had to tell the hospital staff ten times that I didn’t want drugs. If I hadn’t been very determined I would have thought they were implying that I needed something. I didn’t.
Since my baby is an only child, I won’t get a re-do to have the perfect birth experience. Both of us recovered in no time and if I did get a chance to do it over again I would be just as determined to do it naturally.
@Joey, Thanks for the input Joey! I agree, it is alarming how hospitals like the ‘just in case’ things. It’s also a matter of amusement among home birthers and hypnobirthers and other gentle/natural birthers how midwives and other hospital staff don’t believe you’re in labour if you’re not yelling, screaming and being otherwise disorderly!
I don’t know if there is a ‘perfect birth experience’, but I certainly think that not having to ‘fight’ the hospital staff for a natural birth would have gone a long way in making you more relaxed and brought you closer to that ideal! All in though, it does sound like you had a rather good experience!