Why Natural Childbirth?
Guest post by Katelyn Perkins
When I was pregnant with my son 2 years ago, I remember talking to a cashier at Whole Foods about my upcoming birth. After saying that I was having him at a birth center with a midwife, and further explaining that would mean there aren’t any drugs, the employee gave me the craziest look and asked why would anyone want to do that.
At that time, I just thought it would be best. Eating healthy, natural medicine, & holistic living were a big part of my life, so natural childbirth seemed to fit (despite the health store worker’s differing opinion.) But really, it was my first pregnancy, and I didn’t know if I could actually do it. If almost everyone goes to a hospital and has a medicated birth, why not? And I thought I had a low pain tolerance - I pass out every time I get blood drawn, or even a finger prick. Would I really be able to give birth without medication?
But through the process of my son’s birth, I learned the truth about natural childbirth: your body can handle it. And it is SO worth it. And as we are anticipating the home birth of our daughter in the next few weeks, I’m really looking forward to the process. Birth is not easy, but when you work with your body, it is manageable, and so amazing.
These are a few of the key differences I’ve discovered with a natural childbirth.
(Note: when I refer to “natural childbirth” I’m generally referring to a birth with a midwife at a birthing center or a home birth. It’s possible to have a natural birth at a hospital, but can be harder as you have to work within your hospital’s policy for routine procedures & time frames, as well as whoever happens to be on call when you are in labor. I believe there is absolutely a place for medical intervention in birth, just generally not in a normal, low-risk pregnancy.)
In a natural birth you…
Let your body go into labor naturally - Pitocin is a drug commonly given to start or speed up labor. The downside is it makes contractions harder than they would be if your body was producing them on its own, and can cause fetal distress. This increases need for painkiller, and the likelihood of having a C-section, both of which have their own potential complications. The contractions your body naturally produces are less intense, which makes labor easier on both mom and baby.
Avoid unnecessary interventions - when you’re able to avoid common interventions such as artificial rupture of membranes, routine IV, being constantly strapped to monitors, stuck in a bed, etc., your risk of further complication is lower, thus lowering your need for further intervention (forceps or vacuum delivery, episiotomy, etc.) In contrast, when you can move freely you’re able to work with your body and find the best positions to help it as you labor. For me, rocking on a Pilates ball, and soaking in a bathtub were incredible for reducing pressure & being able to work with the contractions.
Create a relaxed atmosphere - this is probably what I’m looking forward to most about giving birth at home this time. Instead of driving to a hospital where I’d be in an unfamiliar environment and working with shift changes I’m happy to know I’ll instead be surrounded by the comforts of my own home to bring this baby into the world. Having my own bed, being able to eat and drink my own food without restriction, & having my family and midwives with me while in labor is really comforting for me.
These are just a handful of the things I’ve come across when researching birth options for myself, and learning from my own experience and those of friends. If you’re interested in natural birth, I highly recommend watching The Business of Being Born (you can rent it on iTunes or watch on Netflix on demand.)
Birth is an incredible, empowering, life changing experience. And when we let it happen as God designed, I think it’s really even better :)