Natural birth refers to a childbirth experience without medical intervention, such as pain medication, epidural anesthesia, or artificial induction of labor.
If you are curious about what natural birth entails, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between natural and normal birth, the benefits of natural birth, how to prepare for it, the level of pain involved, and whether natural births take longer.
We’ll also discuss how to have a natural hospital birth, whether natural birth is right for you, and the best natural birthing methods available.
Table of Contents
- What is the most natural way to give birth?
- What is the difference between a natural and a normal birth?
- What is the difference between a natural and a home birth?
- Benefits of natural birth
- How to prepare for a natural birth
- How painful is natural birth?
- Do natural births take longer?
- How to have a natural hospital birth
- Is natural birth right for you?
- What is the best natural birthing method?
- Potential risks of natural childbirth
- C section vs natural birth?
- Can you have a natural birth after c-section?
- How long after natural birth can you have intercourse?
- Wrapping up
What is the most natural way to give birth?
The most natural way to give birth is to follow the body’s instinctual processes and allow the labor process to unfold without any external interventions or pain medication.
The physical location for the delivery doesn’t matter; it can take place in a hospital, birthing center, at home, or any other location you choose. However, many women choose to give birth in a birth center or hospital so medical help is on hand if needed.
This approach can result in a more positive and empowering birth experience for the mother, as well as a faster recovery time, and is suitable for most women with low risk pregnancies.
What is the difference between a natural and a normal birth?
Natural childbirth, as mentioned, is an unmedicated birth experience without medical interventions such as artificial induction of labor.
In contrast, a normal birth is a vaginal delivery that occurs without complications, regardless of whether medical interventions or pain medications were used.
In other words, a natural birth is a type of normal delivery that is free from medical intervention.
What is the difference between a natural and a home birth?
A natural birth can take place in any location, and many mothers choose to have a natural birth in hospital, where an expert care team is available if complications arise.
A home birth is a kind of vaginal birth which takes place at home. A certified nurse, midwife or doula may be present, and the home birth may or may not involve medical intervention or pain relief.
In other words, a home birth is a type of normal delivery, which may or may not use natural birth methods.
Benefits of natural birth
There are several benefits to having a natural birth. First and foremost, a woman who feels in control, relaxed and prepared can enjoy a far shorter labor and faster recovery time.
An environment with minimal medical intervention puts the woman in control, rather than feeling a helpless subject. This can give her an enormous sense of empowerment.
The feelings a woman experiences during labor and delivery provide a valuable feedback loop that helps her choose the activities and positions that help most. By contrast, in a medicated birth, especially one with epidural, the woman is cut off from the physical sensations and labor can slow down.
Many women find that by allowing their bodies to do what they were designed to do, they feel more connected to the birth experience and their baby.
How to prepare for a natural birth
Preparing for a natural birth involves several steps. The first step is to choose a healthcare provider who supports natural childbirth. This may be a midwife or a doctor who has experience with natural childbirth.
It’s also a good idea to create a birth plan that outlines your preferences and desires for the birth experience so that everyone involved knows your wishes. Although this is a bigger topic, you might include details of where you wish to give birth, the positions you prefer, the pain medications you would prefer, when to offer pain medication, and your wishes should complications arise, such as needing vacuum extraction or forceps.
In addition to choosing a healthcare provider and creating a birth plan, you’ll need to prepare your body and mind for the birth process. This may involve exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, as well as practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization.
Taking a childbirth education or hypnobirthing class can also be beneficial in preparing for a natural birth, and we’ll cover this later on in this article.
How painful is natural birth?
Pain is a common concern for women giving birth. While it’s true that natural childbirth can be painful, it is more likely to be so if you feel stressed, anxious or fearful.
There are several techniques you can use to manage the pain and give birth. These include relaxation techniques, natural pain management techniques, breathing exercises, massage, and water immersion. A hypnobirthing program like Blissful Birth can teach you the techniques you need to stay relaxed and feeling in control.
In addition, many women find that the pain of natural childbirth is manageable because it is a natural process their bodies were designed to do. It’s also important to remember that the pain of childbirth is temporary and that it will end once your baby is born.
Do natural births take longer?
It’s a common misconception that natural births take longer than medicated births. While it’s true that natural childbirth can take longer, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many women who have natural births have relatively short labors.
The length of labor is influenced by many factors, including the position of the baby, the strength of the contractions, and the woman’s overall health and fitness during pregnancy. A woman’s second and subsequent delivery can also be significantly shorter than her first.
Fear and anxiety during labor and delivery can cause the body to release stress hormones, which can slow down the labor progress and make the experience longer and more difficult.
When a woman feels scared or threatened during childbirth, her body may go into fight or flight mode, which can cause the cervix to tense up and delay the birthing process.
By managing fear and anxiety, women can improve the chances of having a smooth and efficient labor and delivery experience.
Helping women stay relaxed and feeling in control during labor is the primary benefit of hypnobirthing approaches, such as Blissful Birth.
How to have a natural hospital birth
Having a natural hospital birth is much easier now than in the past. Many hospitals now offer birthing suites that are designed to mimic a home-like environment and provide a more natural childbirth experience.
Many of these birth suites are run by certified nurse midwives, and offer popular facilities such as a warm bath, birthing pool and birthing balls. And you have the reassurance that if complications arise and medical interventions are required, you are in the right place.
It’s a good idea to discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider and the hospital staff before going into labor to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Is natural birth right for you?
Deciding whether natural childbirth is right for you is a personal choice that depends on your individual needs and preferences.
It’s suitable for most women with low risk pregnancy, but even women with high risk pregnancy may be able to enjoy a natural birth if their medical care team is happy to support them.
So it’s important to do your research, talk to your healthcare provider, and consider your own feelings and desires for the birth experience.
If you are interested in natural childbirth but are hesitant about the labor pain, or other aspects of the experience, it’s important to remember that there are many techniques and resources available to help manage the pain and make the experience as comfortable as possible.
These include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, massage, water immersion, and hypnobirthing, among others.
What is the best natural birthing method?
There are several natural birthing methods available, and the best one for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. One popular method is hypnobirthing, which uses self hypnosis, relaxation, breathing techniques, and visualization to reduce pain and anxiety during childbirth.
Hypnobirthing techniques can also help with the physical and emotional challenges that crop up during pregnancy. (Read more: Hypnosis for Pregnancy.)
Heidi Woodgate’s Blissful Birth program is an example of a hypnobirthing program that can help prepare women for a natural childbirth experience. This program includes a variety of tools and resources to help women manage pain, stay calm and relaxed during labor and delivery, and have a positive and empowering birth experience.
Other natural birthing and hypnobirthing methods include Lamaze, Bradley Method, the Mongan Method and Mindful Mamma, among others.
Each method has its own unique approach and techniques, so it’s important to do your research and choose the method that feels right for you.
Potential risks of natural childbirth
While giving birth naturally has many benefits, there are some risks to choosing this option.
Firstly, pain is subjective, and everyone experiences pain differently. What is agony to one person may be perfectly tolerable to others, and some pain management options may become unavailable as labor progresses. An epidural, for example, cannot be given once the cervix becomes fully dilated.
Routine medical interventions, such as foetal monitoring and blood pressure checks, can identify problems before they become too serious. Choosing minimal interventions can mean complications are caught later than they otherwise might.
Finally, women who choose a home birth without any medical support person or easy access to medical facilities may put themselves at increased risk if something goes wrong in labor.
C section vs natural birth?
It’s commonly thought that a caesarian section (c section) is less painful and traumatic than giving birth vaginally, but this overlooks the fact that a c-section is a major operation, and not without its own risks.
Recovery from a c section is generally slower and more painful than a vaginal birth, and puts you at a high risk of infection and heavy vaginal bleeding. To reduce the risks of infection, antibiotics are often given before a c section.
A c section can also put your baby at risk of breathing difficulties, especially those born before week 39 of pregnancy. This usually improves a few days after giving birth, but may require additional monitoring in hospital.
All that said, there are times where a c section is advised for medical reasons, and unexpected complications in labor sometimes means an emergency caesarian is required.
So even if you have a low risk pregnancy and plan a natural birth, it’s important to remain flexible and open to the possibility that plans may need to change at short notice.
Can you have a natural birth after c-section?
It’s common for women who have given birth by c section to wonder if they can have a natural birth for their next pregnancy.
The good news is that most women who are fit and healthy can safely give birth to their next baby naturally, which is known as vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).
In fact, around 75% of women who have had one caesarean section and then have a straightforward pregnancy and go into labor naturally give birth vaginally.
In most cases, some extra monitoring during labor is all that is required, just to make sure everything is progressing well.
In some cases, however, your healthcare provider may recommend you elect for a caesarean if it is considered the safest option for you and your baby.
How long after natural birth can you have intercourse?
Giving birth puts a strain on a woman’s body, regardless of whether it was an intervention and drug free birth or not. So it’s important to allow the body time to heal and recover before resuming sexual activity.
There are no hard and fast rules about when to start having sex again, but many healthcare providers recommend waiting a few weeks to allow the uterus and any tears or incisions to fully heal.
Be guided by how you feel, as well as follow any advice from your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your individual situation. You’ll probably feel sore and tired for the first couple of weeks in any event as you adjust to life with your new baby.
Whatever you do, remember you can get pregnant again as soon as 3 weeks after giving birth, even if your periods haven’t started again, and even if you’re breastfeeding. So unless you intend to get pregnant again right away, be sure to use some kind of contraception.
Ultimately, giving birth without interventions or pain medication, can be an empowering experience for a woman, and can result in a shorter labor, and faster recovery time.
It is suitable for most women with low risk pregnancies, and many hospitals now have midwife led units and birth centers which offer expectant mothers a more natural childbirth experience, with the reassurance that a medical care team is on hand if needed.
If you are considering natural childbirth, it’s important to do your research, talk to your healthcare provider, and consider your own feelings and desires for the birth experience.
With the right preparation and support, natural childbirth can be a positive and empowering experience that you will remember for a lifetime.