by Christine Kenney
When expecting a new baby, one of the most discussed issues is whether to go with medication or to have a natural delivery. For years, the epidural gained popularity as births became a pleasant experience. Recently however, the trend has leaned more towards natural childbirth. Why is this happening, and what are the benefits to going natural?
Women who decide to attempt a natural childbirth experience have usually done some research. While medication can make it easier initially, here are a few reasons to think about going without.
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Women who have not been administered medication are able to move from side to side, go the bathroom, and walk during labor. This can help relax the body. Studies have shown that women who get medication during delivery will often have a harder time changing positions after the baby has been delivered.
Mothers who go natural will also be able to assist more when it comes time to push. Your body will work better when the urge is felt. Mothers with an epidural often have longer pushing times, since your feeling is desensitized.
Most women who have a successful natural childbirth are able to walk around almost immediately. Recovery overall is quicker for natural deliveries.
When delivering naturally, a woman will be able to choose certain birthing positions. There are birthing balls available to help alleviate the pain. Your body will also guide you to help your baby deliver easily. A woman in labor that is having back pain will naturally try to avoid lying on her back. This is also one sign that a baby is in the posterior position, and staying off of your back helps the baby turn without medical intervention (such as a C-section).
Your body will guide your birth if you let it, and many of the complaints during a medicated delivery could possibly be overcome through natural childbirth practices.
Your body will release endorphins during childbirth. These chemicals have been secreted into the placenta and the umbilical cord during delivery, and are believed to make your baby's delivery more comfortable as well.
LOWERED RISK OF MEDICAL INTERVENTION
Women who have an epidural administered can be a relief when the mother has had a very difficult labor, or just has no energy left. When taken, however, mothers should be aware there is an increased need for assisted delivery through vacuum extractors or forceps. This presents an added risk for your baby.
Women are empowered with the ability to give birth naturally. While there are absolutely many cases where medical intervention is necessary, often omitting the natural method of delivery makes it more difficult to deliver. During standard medical deliveries, a woman will have restricted movements because she is attached to monitors, no food or fluids in case of surgery, and few options for non-medical pain relief.
If you choose to attempt natural childbirth, speak with your doctor well ahead of time and make sure that he or she agrees with your feelings. Having the support of your physician is imperative. Make a birthing plan an visit the hospital to let the staff know you want a nurse that is willing to accommodate a natural birth. Some medical staff are more willing than others to work with natural birth techniques.
You may also want to consider a birthing center. This is a special place where it will feel much more like home for delivery. Staffed with midwifes, they are prepared to handle emergencies while giving you a relaxing experience. If you want a water birth, most birthing centers offer this option.
Explore pain relief techniques before the big day. Take a class such as La Maz, or find a doula that can offer you individualized relief and massage.
When experiencing labor, it is different for every woman. Those who have not let labor progress on its own may not believe a woman who says "I didn't even know I was in labor." Sometimes it progresses easily other times it is very uncomfortable, but most of the time contractions are tolerable for a woman until the end.
By the time you get to "transitional labor", it's often too late to change your mind. This is the few minutes when you panic, and want to change your mind about having a baby. The classic period when you scream out all your panic, but it simply signals the time to push.
Once you have reached transitional labor, you are almost through. Hang in tight, and you will have a baby before you know it. Some women even elect to help catch their own babies as they come out.
There is pain during labor, but most women who experience natural childbirth feel incredibly empowered. The pain is forgotten almost immediately. Subsequent deliveries are usually done naturally as well, even knowing the discomfort.
I have had four deliveries, and chose to go natural after a bad experience with an epidural my first delivery. It is an amazing and wonderful experience to be able to participate in bringing your baby in the world instead of being told when to do everything. However, each women is different, make sure you discuss any decision with a medical profession.
Every woman has a birthing story to tell. Every birth has a different story, even with the same mother. Keep your mind open to the experience, and don't feel cheated if you don't have the ideal experience you envisioned. Birthing a baby is an adventure. The tiny bundle of joy you hold in your arms is simply the beginning of your birth experience, whether you had a natural birth, went with an epidural, or had a C-section.
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