More patients than ever are interested in natural birth. Can you have a natural birth in a hospital? Can you work with an OB/GYN for natural birth? We have answers.
More and more patients are interested in natural birth. There are many definitions of “natural birth” and just as many misconceptions about how and where a natural birth can happen. We will break down the facts so you can know how to prepare for natural birth — the way you want to do it.
What is natural birth?
A natural birth is considered to be a delivery where the patient uses limited to no pain medication. While that is the medical definition of a natural birth, some people feel that any vaginal birth is natural childbirth, whether or not that includes receiving an epidural for pain management or Pitocin to induce labor. Others believe that natural birth includes no medical intervention at all. Patients can fall anywhere in between as far as what feels right for them and their pregnancy. Many women consider natural birth for a host of reasons, from wanting to avoid potential complications for themselves or baby, wanting limited medical interventions or to simply see what their bodies can do. Additionally, there may be benefits for natural birth, including shorter labor, faster recovery and potentially easier facilitation of breastfeeding.
However, there are certain criteria for who makes a good candidate for a natural childbirth.
“Natural birth can be a choice for those with low-risk pregnancies,” said Gigi L. Girard, M.D., OB/GYN with Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology, a Part of Norton Women’s Care. “Natural birth isn’t recommended for patients with certain chronic conditions or a pregnancy that’s considered high risk, such as babies in breech position, multiple fetuses or babies with congenital conditions needing interventions.”
How to prepare for a natural birth
Choosing a low- or no-medication natural birth takes preparation. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a natural birth.
Midwives and OB/GYNs offer care before, during and after pregnancy.
“A common myth about natural childbirth is that only midwives offer it,” Dr. Girard said. “However, OB/GYNs are happy to help our patients achieve the birth plan as they envision it, while ensuring the health of mom and baby is always the priority. OB/GYNs can pivot with a patient’s pregnancy should complications arise, whereas midwives work strictly with low-risk pregnancies.”
Norton Healthcare offers both midwives and OB/GYNs for pregnancy care. One of our midwives or OB/GYNs can work with you to discover if a natural birth is safe for you and your pregnancy.
Make a natural birth plan with your provider.
Once it’s been deemed safe for you to proceed with a natural birth, coming up with a customized birth plan is the next step. Natural birth can include many different techniques and strategies for managing pain and delivery. Do you envision water labor? Nitrous oxide? Perhaps the Lamaze technique? Additionally, there are many natural childbirth tools and props to help you get through a natural delivery.
“When considering where to give birth, knowing what tools and support are available for you to achieve the birth plan you want is key,” Dr. Girard said.
Find support and learn about labor and delivery
Many patients considering natural birth work with a doula for support during delivery. Much like a coach, a doula assists before, during and shortly after childbirth. Doulas are hired by the patient and are considered a guest in the delivery room. Please review the Norton Healthcare visitor policy to know how many guests are allowed for deliveries.
“In addition to having a strong support system, those considering a natural birth should learn as much about labor and delivery as possible,” Dr. Girard said. “It can help to prepare mentally and find strategies that they believe will benefit them during their delivery.”
Norton Healthcare offers free classes for expectant parents on a wide range of topics, from childbirth to breastfeeding.