For years the term "natural" childbirth made people think of parents who wanted to give birth totally without pain medication or traditional medical intervention! Over time, other women have rejected the idea of "natural childbirth" as unnecessary and have proceeded directly to the epidural, or even the elective c-section. Their hope is to make birth both convenient and discomfort-free!
Instead of "natural", I find it most helpful to remember that pregnancy and birth are normal and healthy conditions. You are not sick or injured, and your body knows how to do exactly what it was designed by your Creator to do. Sometimes there is a genuine medical situation that requires medication and intervention. It is wonderful to have these options available to enhance the safety of both mother and baby. For most women however, their body is strong and healthy, and very capable of this miraculous process of birth with little or no intervention.
Lamaze International believes that the following care practices, adopted from the World Health Organization, promote, support and protect nature's plan for birth:
These six care practices represent "evidence-based" care, meaning that they are supported by research studies that examine the benefits and risks of maternity care practices. The Lamaze Institute for Normal Birth Care Practice Papers provide more information about the evidence that supports each care practice, as well as the full text of the "Ten Tips for a Normal Birth" (below) at www.lamaze.org.
Hoping to achieve a "normal birth" experience? Here are ten tips (somewhat abbreviated), from Lamaze International:
Ten Tips for a Normal Birth:
1. Choose a place to birth in which you are most comfortable, and which supports normal birth.
2. Choose a healthcare provider that supports normal birth.
3. Do not request or agree to induction of labor unless there is a medical indication. Allowing your body to go into labor on its own, and find its own pace and rhythm is extremely important.
4. Plan to move around freely during labor, staying upright and changing positions.
5. Think about who you want for your support partners; consider hiring a doula to support you and your partner with continuous emotional and physical support.
6. Ask that your baby's heartbeat be monitored intermittently, rather than continuously, so that the belts and machines do not impede movement.
7. Eat and drink as your body tells you to.
8. Use nonpharmacologic pain managements such as warm baths or showers, hot and cold packs, massage, focused breathing, etc.
9. Do not give birth on your back, push when your body tells you to, and work with your own body's cues and rhythm.
10. Keep your baby with you after birth, with skin to skin contact, to give a good start to breastfeeding.