Some moms choose to have a natural childbirth without the aid of medications for pain relief. Instead, they opt for techniques that involve controlled breathing and relaxation tips for the pain. With a natural birth, the mom is completely in control of her body, usually with a doula or labor assistant to support and give guidance through the different phases of labor.
For many expectant moms natural birth is not about bravery at all but rather treating the birth of their baby as a natural experience. For most the experience of giving birth despite being in pain is incredibly rewarding and empowering. After all, giving birth is a special and unique experience.
More about giving birth naturally
With a natural birth you are allowing nature to take its course and the process might involve:
- Experiencing labor and giving birth without the aid of any medications. This includes epidurals and pain relief meds.
- Using little or no artificial medical procedures like ongoing fetal monitoring or episiotomies (when the perineum is cut to make room for the baby to be delivered).
- Permitting the mom to take the lead with the labour and delivery process in the best way that feels most comfortable.
Why women decide on having a natural birth
Many women that do not have high risk pregnancies prefer to choose the au naturel route to avoid probable risks to mom and baby as a result of certain medications. Pain meds can influence your labour and cause the following:
- Speeding labour up
- Slowing labour down
- Blood pressure dropping
- Make you nauseas
- Give you a sense of not having control
For others choosing a completely natural birth simply allows them to feel more connected to the birth experience in itself and deal with labour in a practical way.
Where does it all happen?
Some prefer having a natural birth in a setting outside of hospital like a birth center that solely focuses on childbirth. Women can move around freely during labour or choose positions that are more comfortable. They can even spend some time in a jacuzzi or tub. The baby is regularly monitored, usually with a handheld ultrasound tool.
They also introduce measures to make the mom feel more comfortable and relaxed like warm and cold compresses, hydrotherapy, visualization and relaxation techniques, and massage. The mom is also free to eat and drink whatever she chooses. There are many health care professionals like certified nurse midwives, expertly trained doulas, and registered nurses that work in birth centers that assist moms during labor.
Benefit of getting support while in labour
Studies show that ongoing support throughout labour from an experienced professional like a doula or midwife can shorten labour time, might prevent a C-section, result in lesser use of pain medication or none, and help with making the experience a more positive one.
Natural births are encouraged more
Nowadays, you can opt for a natural birth in various hospitals. Some even have birth centers that take a natural approach to delivery; however, medical intervention is at hand if required. Many hospitals have started taking a different approach when it comes to low-risk natural births and have rooms available that resemble homelike milieus where moms can go through labour, deliver their baby, and recover, all in one place. They look for cues from a labouring mom and proceed gradually without intervention if everything seems to be without complications.
Pain management methods might be given if asked and the assistance from labour assistants (like a doula) is welcomed. Apart from the baby’s father, grandparents, other siblings, and friends may be allowed in the room during birth which is a commonplace practice in some birth centers. The baby can also stay with the mother longer. This approach is often referred to as family-centered care. However, if you have a high risk-pregnancy, it is highly recommended to go to a hospital where medical care is available in case something goes wrong.
How do you cope with the pain during natural birth?
The method you choose for getting through the pain is entirely your choice. Every mom is different and choose methods that work the best for them. Some control the pain by focusing on something else and channeling their thoughts to a better place with no pain. The two most commonplace childbirth pain philosophies are the Bradley method or Lamaze technique.
The Lamaze technique reassures you that giving birth is a normal, healthy, and natural process but has a neutral stance towards pain meds. It encourages women to make a well-versed decision about whether it is the right path to choose for them.
The Bradley method is also referred to as husband-coached birth and stresses a natural attitude toward birth and the active involvement of a birth coach. The primary aspiration behind this method is to avoid any medications unless vitally necessary. This method also emphasizes on exercise and good nutrition during pregnancy and adopting deep breathing and relaxation methods to cope with labour pain. Even though the Bradley method depicts a meds free approach to giving birth, the classes prepare parents for unplanned complications or scenarios such as C-sections.
Other methods for moms to cope with the pain during labor:
- Counterpressure or massage
- Taking a shower or bath
- Distractions through activities to keep your mind busy
- Visual imagery
- Immersion in a jacuzzi or warm water
- Changing positions
- Listening to relaxing music
What does it feel like?
Even though labour is said to be among one of the most painful experiences in your life, it differs from one woman to another, and every pregnancy is different. Women also experience pain in various ways. For some, it feels similar to menstrual cramps, while for others, it feels like extreme pressure or waves of pain that resembles diarrheal cramps. For first time mommies the pain levels feel a lot worse than for women who have given birth previously.
How long does labor last?
There is no specific time for giving birth. For some moms, their little one arrives within a few hours while for others it can take a day or even longer. Each woman reacts to and experience labour differently.
Possible risks and precautions that you can take
Generally, natural birth is safe, however it can become risky when you do not take your healthcare provider’s suggestions seriously and still refuse medical intervention once complications set in. It is vital for not only your own, but also your baby’s wellbeing to stay open minded when things do not go as planned. In an emergency, if medical assistance is refused, you could place your own life and your baby’s life at risk.
What happens afterwards?
Any woman who has given birth before will probably tell you that you will feel:
- Exhausted. You and your baby will most probably choose to sleep as much as you possibly can.
- Cold or shivering – a lot of moms shiver after giving birth. It is a completely natural bodily response.
- Sore – many moms experience cramps in their uterus, particularly when nursing. You will also experience soreness and discomfort inside and around your vaginal area.
- Empowered and ecstatic – you may experience an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and joy, knowing that you got through it and your baby is finally born.
What happens if you cannot handle the pain?
Labour might be a lot more painful than you have anticipated. It happens all the time that moms who opted not to use any pain medication end up changing their minds when the actual labour pain sets in. Do not beat yourself up. It is commonplace and entirely understandable.
After all, you are giving birth to a little human being and should be commended for your enthusiasm and willingness to give birth naturally. If the pain is too much to handle, do not hesitate to ask for pain medication. And if things start to derail, you might not have a choice in the matter since your circumstances have changed. Giving birth is a rewarding and lovely experience, with or without medical assistance.
12 Natural childbirth videos and tips
Labour and delivery of our first baby – Flying the nest
Positive labour and delivery story – Wolfe momma
Home water birth – Ellen Fisher
Freebirth of twins – Sarah Schmid
Natural unmedicated birth – Bridget Teyler
What do contractions feel like? What happens during a contraction?
10 Things your labour nurse wants you to know about unmedicated birth
Hypnobirthing positive natural birth story
Essential steps to prepare for a natural birth
Coping with labour pain without an epidural
Breathing techniques for an easier labour
Best labour positions – how to reduce labour pains naturally
Signs that indicate labour will be happening soon
If you experience any of the following symptoms, prepare yourself mommy, because labour is approaching.
Your water just broke
Many moms have nightmares about their water breaking when they are out and about, but in most cases, the amniotic fluid sac generally breaks after you start having contractions. It is not that common to break before the time. Even if your water breaks while you’re at the movies or in the grocery store, you will most likely experience a small leak, and not a huge gust, since the baby’s head prevents all the fluid from leaking out. Once the amniotic sac ruptured, it is an indication that labour will happen soon. Most women naturally go in to labour within twelve hours after their water broke. If not, labour is often induced to prevent the risk of infection.
Signs of a bloody show or discharge
When you are pregnant, your cervix remains closed and plugged with mucus. This is your body’s way of protecting your little one from infection. However, once labour starts approaching, your cervix starts to dilate and softens to prepare for birth. This leads to whatever accumulated (small amount of mucus) during birth to dislodge. The mucus is also referred to as the mucus plug and is dispelled as a runny smear or blob. It will either have a brown or pink color.
Your back starts to hurt really bad
Back pain during pregnancy is common, however if the back pain becomes incredibly hurtful, it could be a sign of back labour. Usually the baby descends down the birth canal with his face pressed against your spine, however, in some cases, when the skull hits the spine, you will experience ongoing pain that radiates to your abdomen but is primarily concentrated in your back. Severe back pain is a symptom of impending labour.
You start feeling contractions
In many cases, you will experience Braxton Hicks contractions for months or weeks prior to delivery. But how do you distinguish between false or real contractions?
Real contractions versus Braxton Hicks contractions
Real contractions are more painful and regular, usually falling into a frequent pattern. You will feel their intensity building up when labour approaches. The regularity will not necessarily increase in a frequent pattern, but they will slowly increase. Braxton Hicks contractions happens intermittently and do not become more intense.
Early real contractions might feel like severe menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pressure, or tummy upset. The pain could happen in your lower back and abdomen, radiation down into your legs. But bear in mind, the location is not a true indication of real labour pains since Braxton Hicks contractions are also experienced in these areas.
Congratulations on your pregnancy and the impending birth of your baby mommy! We hope that this post has been helpful and that most of your questions relating to natural birth was answered. Be sure to look at the natural childbirth videos that we have shared to help you prepare for the big day.
Many moms choose to deliver their baby’s naturally, However, if you experience any worrisome symptoms during any stage of your pregnancy, you must get medical advice about the best way going forward. In the meantime, enjoy the homestretch during these last few weeks or days before you meet your baby. Remain calm and start preparing yourself for the big day.