Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful, joyous, and exciting times in a woman’s life. There is just nothing like it and I will always look back on my three pregnancies as the most miraculous experiences. It is also one of the most stressful events though. You want to do the best for your baby before and after they enter into this world. Before baby is even born you have lots of decisions to make that will effect them.. what you will eat, how active you will be, what you allow yourself to be exposed to while preggers, etc. You also have to decide between natural childbirth and an epidural.
Let’s explain: Natural versus Conventional (or Epidural)
So everyone is on the same wave length, let’s explain what I mean by “natural” and also “epidural.” Natural childbirth is essentially a birth that could have been had by our ancestors before all the interventions came along. It can be attended by a doctor, midwife, or doula at a birthing facility or it can be a home birth with minimal if any assistance. Natural childbirth means the mother does not receive any drugs to alleviate pain or interfere with the natural birthing process. Often a mother uses breathing techniques, like Lamaze, and visualization to get through the pain of labor. I personally used hypnobirthing for my last two pregnancies and swear by it. Alternate birthing methods like water birth are natural in that no medications or interventions are involved.
Epidural birth refers to a method of anesthesia that is given to reduce the pain of labor for the mother. A doctor will place a catheter in the epidural space of the spine for infusion of pain medication and anesthetics. Mother is able to rest during labor and not be in constant pain.
Choosing Natural Childbirth
Well, if you have ever been on a labor and delivery unit, you are probably thinking that the second choice doesn’t sound half bad to you. But, for moms who want to make an informed choice, here are some of the advantages and reasons why natural birth is chosen over an epidural delivery. Also if you have had a birth or two that did not end up very naturally, don’t beat yourself up about it. For my first birth I intended to go natural but it didn’t work out that way and I think much of it was my own fear and inexperience. My second and third go rounds, I knew I could do it! Here are some reasons why you may want to try it yourself as well…
1. Fewer traumas to baby – A natural birth commences on the baby’s schedule and without drugs baby and mom are more alert. Some medications can speed up labor pains and lead to fetal distress in babies by slowing down their heart rate. Often times the result is a C-section. Babies can also be born with a fever due to medication given to the mother.
2. Low APGAR scores – A baby can score lower from the womb if they are affected by medication. Remember that mom and baby are still connected and medication can cross the placental barrier. You aren’t the only getting dosed with powerful drugs and we need to think about whether or not we want our child to be born into the world that way.
3. Harder to push – When the mother can’t feel the downward pressure of baby’s movement, she will have to be told when a contraction is happening so she can push. Because she can’t gauge how hard she is pushing she may be less productive in moving baby through the birth canal and the birth can drag out. With my first I pushed for 30 pain free minutes and ripped badly. For my second and third kids I pushed them out in 2 to 3 pushes with no issues.
4. Healing – Mother can push too hard and may need an episiotomy or tear her muscles in the process. She may also end up with a c-section if the baby does not react well to medications. This can mean longer healing times after the baby is born. Few of us want to spend days or weeks after birth in pain. We want to enjoy our babies!
It is a choice that every mother must make but for both mom and baby, the advantages are greater with a natural birth. It is too bad that society often tries to undermine us and make us think pregnancy is a medical condition or sickness that requires so many interventions instead of a natural process that our bodies are more than capable of handling.
If you have had a natural birth yourself, what do you credit with giving you the confidence that you could do so?