: Giving birth naturally without unnecessary routine medical intervention.
In 2018 World Health Organization recommended that the c-section rate should be about 15% of births, for optimal outcomes for mothers and babies.
This translates to the fact that 85% of women should be able to safely birth vaginally. This being said, it does not imply that all women should birth naturally but it does highlight that vaginal birth is absolutely doable for most women and c-section only really medically necessary in 15% of women.
With the belief that almost all women are inherently capable of giving birth, have a deep, intuitive instinct about birth, and, when supported and free to find comfort, are able to give birth without intervention and without suffering. (Pip Waller)
With all this in mind, how does one go about having a natural birth?
In a society where interventive birth is the norm it can be hard to birth naturally when it’s seen as ‘alternative’.
First you need to really understand what natural birth is:
Allowing your body to do what it knows how to do naturally without unnecessary or routine medical intervention, trusting the process of birth and your body’s ability to birth your baby, trusting your baby to find its way into the correct position to navigate his or her way down through the pelvis or birth canal. Watching and allowing your body and baby’s birth to unfold without disturbance.
Once you understand this concept and tune into that instinctive belief that your body can birth, is made to birth your baby then you also need to set about preparing and getting the information you need to support your belief and enable your choices.
Some of the tools needed to prepare for your natural birth:
- emotional support from your partner, chosen support person, midwife, doula, support people who don’t talk fear into you with scary stories – avoiding the negative and surrounding yourself with positive
- physical support – in the form of freedom to move, optimal positioning, massage, rebozo, pressure points, water to mention just a few
- relaxation and breathing techniques to help keep you calm and relaxed
Preparation techniques such as
- Antenatal Workshops that focus on natural birth incl natural birth tools (See our antenatal classes under services for more on what Midwives Exclusive offers)
Other methods used for preparation:
- Bradley Method https://www.bradleybirth.com/
- Hypobirthing https://www.hypnobirthing.com/
- Birthing form Within https://www.birthingfromwithin.com/
- Lamaze https://www.lamaze.org/
- Alexander technique http://www.alexandertechnique.com/
- Spinning babies https://spinningbabies.com/
- Orgasmic birth https://www.orgasmicbirth.com/
Books that may also be helpful:
- Grantly Dick Reed – Childbirth without Fear
- Pam England – Birthing from within: an extra ordinary guide to childbirth
- Ina May Gaskin – Guide to Childbirth
- Sarah Buckley – Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
- Marie Mongen – Hypnobirthing
- Janet Balaskas – Active Birth
- Shiela Kritzinger – The New Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Jackie Mize – Supernatural Childbirth
- Nancy Bardacke – Mindful Birthing
- Birth into being http://www.birthintobeing.com/film
Candidates for Natural Birth
It’s a commonly asked question we get asked in our practice: How will I know if I will be able to birth naturally?
Who can birth naturally?
Given the WHO recommendations the answer is simply – 85% of all women!
Anyone who is having a healthy low risk pregnancy and wants to have a natural birth should be given the choice and opportunity to do so.
It’s highly recommended you seek out the caregiver to give you the best chance at natural birth ie a caregiver who is experienced with natural birth and comfortable to assist you to have the birth of your choice.
The physical and emotional environment is of utmost importance and should be conducive to having a natural birth. This needs to be taken into account when planning your natural birth and may influence your birth caregivers.
Client and partner must both be comfortable with the birth wishes.
Helpful strategies in pursuing your natural birth include:
Striving to enjoy a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy & be in general good health.
A genuine personal desire to have a positive, natural birth experience. Really understand why you have chosen to birth naturally – what drove you to seek this out?
Selecting your birth venue to suite your needs taking into account the safety / proximity / cost
Staying consciously involved with ensuring their pregnancy and birth is healthy i.e. exercise, education and lifestyle.
Choosing your team to ensure you have emotional, physical and medical support throughout with someone you trust and who respect your wishes and will do everything they can safely to assist you to attain them.
Information – have a good understanding of what natural birth is.
It must be added that at times intervention may become necessary and at these times it should be discussed with you, a decision should be made taking into account your choices and preferences too.
Interventions could include anything from having a drip put up because you cannot keep fluids down and need hydration, breaking your water artificially, an induction of labour, instrument birth etc etc.
Sometimes your natural birth will take a detour and this is not a failure, you need to be prepared for the what if’s and embrace the birth experience in its full entirety as it plays out.
Keep the end goal in site: you are pregnant to have a healthy happy baby so if it doesn’t work out as you planned don’t beat yourself up about it, you did everything you could, the rest was not in your hands.