The term “natural birth” refers to a birth that begins on its own, progresses at its own pace, and ends with the vaginal birth of a new baby. No induction, no epidural, no episiotomy, no forceps or vacuum extraction, no cesarean. An all-natural birth means that a baby comes into the world without any medical interventions.
Four Keys to a Natural Birth
Most parents who plan for a natural birth succeed, either in a hospital, at a birth center or at home. If they follow these “Four Keys to a Natural Birth,” it can increase their chances of needing or wanting any medical interventions for birth:
Knowing the physical and emotional changes a woman undergoes in labor is first step in planning for a natural birth. If a woman and her partner know what to expect as part of the normal labor process, they can relax into it, allow the mother’s body to produce oxytocin and endorphins in its fullest amounts, and allow labor to progress without fear and apprehension. Happy Birth Way classes help build confidence. Parents-to-be learn practical, hands-on tools such as labor positions, massage techniques, rhythmic movements and calm breathing that will help a laboring mother cope with contractions without any medical interventions.
Studies show that when a women is supported continuously during her labor, she has a more positive birth experience with fewer unnecessary interventions. Labor support comes in different ways:
- Husband or Partner: Attending birth classes with mom-to-be is key for a spouse or partner to build his or her own skills and confidence in being a strong labor supporter. Classes teach partners the practical, hands-on tools they will need to fully support a laboring mom, both physically and emotionally.
- Midwife: Midwives are trained in the natural birth process so choosing a midwife instead of an obstetrician can increase a woman’s chances of having a birth without any interventions.
- Doula: “Doula” is a Greek word that means “servant.” In labor, a birth doula’s role is to serve the mother with non-medical labor assistance such as changing positions, massaging and giving emotional encouragement. Doulas also work in concert with the mom’s partner to help uphold the couple’s birth preferences, offering information and guidance should it be needed during labor.
- Friend or relative: All labor supporters are welcome to attend Happy Birth Way classes. The more training they have, the more helpful they will be for a laboring mom.
When a woman in labor allows the contractions to move through her, and she surrenders to each wave of a contraction, using her breath and movement to let go with each sensation, she can gain a rhythm with her labor that carries her through to the next contraction and ultimately to the birth of her baby. Key words are surrender, let go, relax, embrace, soften. When a women responds to a contraction with tension and stiffness in her body, she takes energy away from the uterus which can ultimately slow labor down and cause more discomfort.
4. Remain Low-Risk:
Pregnancy and childbirth are not illnesses so medical interventions are not necessary unless or until a complication or illness appears. A woman who is having a completely normal, disease-free pregnancy is considered low-risk and therefore has little or no chance of needing medical interventions during her labor. When high-risk issues such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes arise, then interventions may be needed, including a labor induction, intravenous medications, and/or a cesarean birth.
While it is not always possible to prevent a pregnancy complication, women have the best chance for a low-risk pregnancy when they choose nutritious, healthy foods as outlined in Easy Eating for Two. Pregnant moms should also exercise regularly with low-impact activities such as walking and prenatal yoga.
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