Natural Birthing Options
By Jamie Larrison - May 26, 2014
When I pictured natural labor I saw those women on TV screaming in pain like they were dying as they yelled profanities at their husbands. I recalled my mother and other women retelling their birth horror stories. I was told by women I respected that not only was natural birth impossible, it was undesirable. My response? I decided I NEVER wanted to have kids. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, my first feelings were of absolute terror. I was aware of natural birth, but I now dove headfirst into learning what it was all about. I didn’t want to end up like most of the mothers I knew. As I became confident in what I knew God had designed my body to do, I learned that labor and delivery didn’t have to be a painful, horrific experience! Even if you’ve already had children and it wasn’t the best of experiences, or there’s one on the way, learning about your body and choices will help immensely. “Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic.”― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
What is Natural Labor?For some this can mean using drugs for pain management, while avoiding a C-section. On the flip side this can mean having an unassisted childbirth in a field of flowers, surrounded by your husband and family. Merriam Webster defines it as, “A method of giving birth to a baby in which the mother chooses not to use drugs to reduce pain or to make the birth happen more quickly.” It's possible to have a natural labor in any setting, even a hospital.
Why Natural Labor?There are so many health benefits, both physically and emotionally for the mother and baby. When labor is allowed to progress naturally, a woman’s body will tell her what to do. “The positions and activities she (the mother) chooses in response to what she feels actually help labor progress by increasing the strength and efficiency of the contractions... When the pain is entirely removed, the feedback system is disrupted and labor is likely to slow down and become less efficient. As labor progresses and pain increases, endorphins, much more potent than morphine, are released in increasing amounts. The result is a decrease in pain perception…” -Judith Lothian in The Journal of Perinatal Education Your body produces a chemical cocktail of hormones during labor that heighten the bonding and can even create a sense of euphoria. Mothers who use drugs for pain management can feel sleepy, mentally disconnected or physically numb. Mother’s may remain alert with no apparent complications, but the baby may be put at risk. Natural birth takes you from being a bystander in your own labor to allowing a connection with yourself and your baby.
Facts on Birth Choices
- Induced labor, like with the popular drug Pitocin, doubles your risk of a C-section.
- The supine position ( flat on your back) can cause: the baby’s heart rate to drop or a lack of oxygen, more pain, longer labor, increased chance of tearing and a 30% narrower pelvic opening.
- Epidurals can: slow labor, cause fetal distress and lack of oxygen, blood vessel trauma leading to headache and paralysis, backache 19% of the time, permanent nerve damage, trouble breathing, nausea 20-30% of the time, and heart problems/damage.
- Women who had a waterbirth had less pain, significantly shorter labors and fewer necessary interventions in this study.
Go with the FlowThere are many birth methods available to study. Lamaze and Bradley are some of the more popular ones. You don't have to prescribe to a specific method either. Do what feels right and comfortable for you! Educate yourself about birth beforehand. Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the information out there. In the end you are the one doing the work and God designed your body to know what to do. I was strongly committed to a water birth, but in the heat of the moment it just didn’t feel right. I ended up birthing in the classic hands and knees position instead.
Tips for a Successful, Natural Birth
- Create a birth plan and share it with your team. This lets the staff know beforehand exactly what you want to happen. If you have to deviate a bit for unforeseen medical reasons, don’t panic!
- Stay positive. I spoke encouragement and Bible verses over my unborn son and my body during pregnancy and early labor. Being in a positive, supported, mindset will not only make the experience easier, but more enjoyable.
- Get help from your husband, your mother, friend or a doula. Doulas are able to advocate for your choices if you give birth in a hospital. They’re also skilled at helping you into different labor and birth positions, relieving pain through acupressure, or stimulating labor with essential oils.
- Stay focused. I turned inside of myself and handled each contraction as it came. One mother describes it this way: “I needed to believe that the only things that existed in the universe at that moment were me, my body and this hard, hard work.”
- Listen to your body. Try different positions and different natural pain management techniques.
- Stay hydrated with natural electrolytes, like in this yummy labor-aide drink.