Benefits of a Natural Childbirth

by Kate on January 31, 2013

in Healthy Living, Natural Birth, Natural Mom, Women's Health

benefits of natural childbirthYesterday I wrote about how to have a natural childbirth. Today, I want to look at the benefits of natural childbirth and explain why it’s something I care about. For the purposes of this post, I’m defining natural childbirth as drug-free childbirth. There are many other things that define a natural childbirth (things like being free to move around, avoiding lots of fetal monitoring, minimizing vaginal exams), but from everything I’ve read, declining drugs (and particularly the epidural) is basically your best chance of keeping the rest of the process as natural as possible.

1. Fewer Side Effects: Most of the typical childbirth interventions have some side effects. An epidural, the most common method of pain relief, will generally have some side effects. These may be as mild as simply slowing down or even stopping labor and decreasing your ability to feel the urge to push. But they could be as severe as causing a drop in the fetal heart rate, which can often result in an emergency c-section. I won’t give you long list now (but here’s a great article about it), but the number and severity of the possible side effects from an epidural is so extensive it’s really rather surprising that women again and again choose an epidural risking a huge laundry list of side effects for the relief of only one thing: pain. Not that the pain isn’t excruciating, but when you add up all the possible discomforts from an epidural it makes you question if maybe pain might be the better choice.

2. Better Control: An epidural relieves pain by numbing you. It numbs you from the waist down. I don’t know about you, but the thought of being numb terrifies me and, I think, would make me feel pretty helpless (not something you want to feel when you have a push a baby out of you).  Once you have the epidural, you also will have to have an IV placed, have continuous fetal monitoring, have a catheter, and have to stay flat on your back for the rest of the delivery.  Once you’re forced to remain flat on your back, you essentially cede control of the process to your nurses and doctors.Then when it comes time to push, you may be too numb to feel the urges, so you’ll have to rely on the doctor’s visual examination and suggestions instead of your own natural impulses. When you don’t have control over the pushing, you’re also more likely to tear. When you go without an epidural, sure you’ll be in pain, but you generally don’t have to remain in bed, you can move and try different positions, you can feel everything so if a doctor is telling you to push but it just doesn’t feel right you can be empowered to put the breaks on.

3. Freedom to Move: As I mentioned above, once you have an epidural you generally have to be confined to your bed. If you decline the epidural, you generally can avoid or decline the many other interventions that would limit your mobility (things like IV drips and continuous fetal monitoring).

4. Decreased Need for Interventions: An epidural goes hand in hand with a wide range of other interventions including continuous fetal monitoring, an IV drip, and a catheter. You’ll also often need Pitocin at some point if the epidural slows labor too much.  Without an epidural, you can often avoid all these interventions and more.

5. Faster Labor: Epidurals often slow down labor. Why? It may partly be because the drugs interfere with your body’s own natural childbirth hormone cocktail. It may also be due to laying in the same position for hours.

6. Easier Breastfeeding: There have been several studies that have shown babies born to a mother who had an epidural have increased difficulty latching on to breastfeed.

7. A Healthier Birth Experience for Mom and Baby: It’s interesting how throughout your pregnancy, your doctor will give you a long list of things to avoid and want you to be extra careful, but then somehow on d-day all that caution goes out the window. Don’t you dare eat unpasteurized cheese or sushi, but when it comes time to labor and deliver hardcore drugs are a-ok!  To spend my whole pregnancy being careful and watching what I eat and taking my vitamins only to chuck it all out the window when it comes time to deliver just seems to fly in the face of reason.

The only real disadvantage to natural childbirth? Pain.

Now of course, there are times when an epidural may be a healthy option–if you’ve been laboring naturally for 24 hours, are exhausted, and losing your will to continue, an epidural may bring you much needed relief and allow you to get through the rest of the birth without needing a c-section. Plus if you’ve been laboring that long your doctor will likely want to give you Pitocin, which from what I hear, can bring a whole new meaning to the word “pain.”

I think it’s a great idea to go into labor feeling resolute in your decision to decline drugs, but it’s also a good idea to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Prepare for a situation where you just have to have an epidural or have to have Pitocin, figure out how to make your childbirth experience as natural as possible even in those scenarios. And don’t forget to also make plans in case you have to have an emergency c-section. When you have a c-section it’s more important than ever to have post-delivery plans in place. For example, let your doctors know that in the case of a c-section you’d still prefer to have 1 hour of skin to skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after delivery–this is a request most doctors will honor, but many women don’t prepare enough to know to ask. If you’re prepared for any birth scenario, you’ll give yourself the best chance of having a healthy, positive experience.

Related Articles:

*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: