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Natural Birth: Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery Information

Over the years, natural birth has become the exception rather than the rule when it comes to having babies: most women have their babies in the hospital, with drugs and surgery being all too common part of childbirth. Around one-third of women who deliver in the U.S. wind up having C-sections—a number some experts say is astronomically high, unnecessary and dangerous. Increases in maternal deaths have been attributed to Cesareans, which increase the risk of infection and delay recovery times by several weeks.

Natural Birth with Help From Doulas and Midwives

Pregnancy is considered by most people to be a natural state: pregnant women usually come by the condition by performing natural acts and letting the body do the rest. But, when a child is due to arrive, this natural state becomes a “medical condition”. Labor and delivery have been for some time coopted by the medical profession, which seems to have defined childbirth as something akin to illness or injury. Many doctors are strongly against home births, natural births and vaginal births after C-section (known as vbac), although research shows these to be perfectly legitimate options. (If we were cynics, we might be tempted to think that some doctors are just out to make a lot of money.)

If you and your baby are in good health, having the baby at home, attended by a midwife or doula, is a perfectly reasonable expectation. Some women prefer going to a birthing center, where they are treated like guests, where someone else cleans up, and where staff members delight in giving advice, comfort and support. Midwives can often increase your options during labor by offering you different positions, massage or other manipulations to help the baby arrive easier.

Mother and Father Involved in Planning Labor and Delivery

One of the benefits of having a natural birth experience includes having more control over the birth process; things that seems so simple when you’re not operating under hospital rules stay that way: you can have a drink of water when you want one; the father can participate as fully as he wants to (short of actually having the baby for you, of course). Medication is optional, so if you want to, you can stay alert throughout the birth. Epidural? Also optional, and you’ll learn when to ask for one. And instead of being one of the 30% of women who get a Cesarean whether they need one or not, you get some informed say in the decision. Natural births, because they lessen the stress surrounding labor and delivery and because mothers are prepared with deep breathing and other techniques for dealing with labor without drugs, tend to result in faster recovery rates.

Birthing Centers have Physician Just In Case

Of course, every mother to be needs an emergency plan in case traditional medical interventions become necessary; if you decide to use a birthing center, there will still be a backup plan in case you need to go the hospital.

Natural birth classes teach you what you need to know, not only about planning your labor and delivery, but about breastfeeding and baby care. Nursing, while a totally natural experience, doesn’t always come naturally at first; it helps to have an expert guide you through it. Some hospitals and all birth centers provide breastfeeding advice; you can also cover the basics in various childbirth classes.
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