What is a 'natural birth?'
Janelle Drogowski, WHNP-BC, is a certified nurse-midwife who practices at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Ms. Drogowski’s office at 623-584-0800.
Question: I’ve heard people talk about natural birth. What does this mean?
Answer: A natural birth is an approach to the labor and delivery process that involves no pain medication and minimal medical interventions. This process enables a woman to remain in control of her body as much as possible during childbirth.
Women who choose natural childbirth acknowledge they will feel pain and discomfort during labor and delivery, and those who have experienced it often express feelings of empowerment and accomplishment. They may also use a variety of techniques to manage pain, including having a family member or friend serve as labor coach or hiring a doula to support the childbirth process; breathing and visualization; massage, touch and water therapy; and movement and positioning. Natural techniques don’t affect alertness or mobility, so a laboring patient can move around as she pleases to find comfort.
Also, these techniques are not invasive so they have few side effects, and the additional interventions associated with epidurals, like medication to strengthen contractions, bladder catheters or extra tools to aid delivery, are rarely necessary.
Women who desire a natural childbirth should discuss it with their prenatal care provider, particularly if they plan to deliver in a hospital. A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) or other trained provider can help a patient develop a birth plan, including developing strategies to reduce pain and identifying what interventions the mother may be comfortable accepting.
The laboring process can be unpredictable and every woman’s pain tolerance is different, so while a woman is encouraged to select the approach best suited for her, being flexible about choices is helpful to both the expectant mother and her baby.