In preparing to explain natural birth I did lots of exploring the works of other doulas and midwives in the birthing world. Through this process I realized they all explain and support natural birth in a way that does not need re-writing. I love this explanation of Natural Birth by SpiritualBirth.net.
Natural birth occurs when a woman releases powerful hormones and neurochemicals that enable her body to expand and release her baby from her womb. In its natural form, childbirth is a state of surrender and also a state of ecstasy as the highest peak of love hormones occurs in both the mother’s and the baby’s brain and body, which heightens their ability to adapt and engage in new relationships after the natural birth.
For a mother to give birth naturally, we must not disturb the natural physiological process of labour and birth. Women are designed to give birth and are usually able to do so without intervention. According to global statistics, only 10-15% of women may need some assistance and 85% of women are capable of birthing naturally. Women deserve to be informed about the benefits of natural birth so they can make informed choices about who cares for them, where and how they give birth. Women deserve compassionate and respectful care during labour and childbirth whether this takes place at home or in hospital.
In my experience the majority of healthy women are able to have a natural birth. What’s more, when parents are well informed and prepare themselves in every way for the birth of their baby, it is possible for this triad of mother, father and baby to have a peak spiritual experience and ecstatic natural birth.
In most of the world, women labor and give birth with midwives (whether at home, in a birth center and in some cases in a hospital), as they have throughout history. Midwifery has been proven to be a safe, nurturing alternative to physician-attended hospital birth.
There are also many women who desire to have a natural birth in a hospital. This can be more challenging but entirely possible. The most important factor is being aware of the challenges of natural birth in a hospital and be prepared for the inevitable challenges that will occur.
“A woman’s body is innately prepared with the strength, stamina, and ability to nourish a safe and natural pregnancy and childbirth. By supporting the body’s own instinctive knowledge, unnecessary medical intervention can often be avoided.” –Mothers Naturally
Natural Birth in a Hospital
Although this is entirely possible, it will be challenged with more obstacles than say a homebirth or a natural birth in a hospital with a midwife rather than an OB.
The medical world is fraught with standards of care that may or may not be based upon evidence. A good place to look for evidence based birth topics is here. The important part is to do lots of research into interventions, their effects on labor and delivery, and alternative options so you can plan a natural birth while avoiding some of the intervention pitfalls.
Interventions can snowball which can take a laboring woman from a high potential of a natural birth to a low potential quite rapidly.
I will give you a simple example: Pitocin
Pitocin (the synthetic form of Oxytocin) is often given to women either to induce labor or speed up labor (both of which are often highly unnecessary, but there are exceptions). Pitocin can cause extremely hard contractions which put the mother into a state of extreme discomfort and the baby into a state of fetal distress. This then leads to an epidural for the mother and a possible c-section for baby. The snowball happens rapidly and is often unavoidable.
Birthing is a natural experience that, in most cases, does not need medical intervention. Self doubt and fear are crippling emotions making a natural birth less likely. Confidence, research, knowledge, and commitment, make for a great course towards natural birth.
How to Have an Empowered Birth
I read this lovely article on She Knows which discusses how to have an empowered birth. It states, “Births that begin according to their own timetable and progress naturally are safer and healthier for both mom and baby.”
A Quick Guideline to a Natural Birth
(especially in a Hospital)
1. Know the interventions and create a birth plan.
2. Wait for labor to begin on its own.
3. Move around freely during labor.
4. Expect Discomfort, have prepared for how to cope (i.e. Bradley Method, Supernatural Childbirth, etc.)
5. Trust your instincts and stick to your guns (avoid the intervention snowball).
6. Hire a Doula.
7. Choose a supportive and confident Practitioner.
8. Know the benefits of natural birth so you can remind yourself with transition hits.