Natural childbirth means different things to different people. And its meaning is most important when you are the one having the baby.
Some say that all birth is natural. That includes births with epidurals, inductions, and cesareans. And if natural birth is described as a human exiting the pregnant person’s body, then yes, everyone has a natural birth.
Others consider that natural birth is defined as labor starting and continuing on its own and ending in a vaginal delivery without the use of pain medication or other interventions. And this definition leaves many births out of the “natural birth” category.
What does “natural childbirth” really mean?
Natural childbirth is defined as “A method of childbirth in which medical intervention is minimized and the mother often practices relaxation and breathing techniques to control pain and ease delivery.” The American College of Nurse Midwives defines it as “normal birth” with labor starting and progressing on it’s own.
Labor usually starts and progresses on its own by the pregnant person’s body producing oxytocin, which causes contractions. Those contractions then cause the cervix to efface and dilate, and results with the birth of the baby. Natural birth is when this happens without any addition of medication or interventions to keep labor going.
Most pregnant and laboring persons that are working towards a natural childbirth also are preparing to labor without pain medication. They usually have taken a class on breathing and relaxation techniques. Practicing these techniques in advance can help them stay relaxed and focused during their labor and birth.
How do you feel about “natural childbirth”?
When it comes to childbirth, no matter how your baby is born, what matters is how you feel about it. The words a person uses to describe their birth experience are powerful and significant to them. They get to choose how they tell their story.
However they choose to tell it, it is worth listening to.
Lois Perks, LPN, Prodoula CD Labor, PPS, CBE, P&ICD