While every expectant mother needs to choose the delivery with which she is most comfortable, there are a number of benefits that natural childbirth offers.
Labor is Often Shorter
Epidurals and other pain relieving medications can interfere with the body’s natural way of laboring, slowing contractions and prolonging labor. And because these medications can make it hard for women to feel their contractions, they don’t know when to push. By not pushing strongly enough at key times, they can miss important opportunities to work with the rhythms of their bodies.
Fewer Medical Interventions
Because epidurals can prolong labor, doctors may be more likely to intervene with a Pitocin drip (oxytocin – a uterine stimulant) or use a vacuum or forceps to move the fetus through the birth canal. If fetal monitoring becomes necessary, an instrument has to be attached to the baby’s scalp. Issues related to the heart beat or other complications may require a Cesarean-section. These complications aren’t always caused by epidural use, but they do occur more often than in natural delivery.
Breastfeeding is Easier
Babies born through natural childbirth are more alert and more interested in breastfeeding. The pain medication women receive during labor passed on to baby. This can hinder the normal suckling behavior that babies usually display shortly after birth. Babies exposed to an epidural may have trouble latching on and demonstrate an uncoordinated suck/swallow response for hours or even days.
Healthier for Mom and Baby
To counteract the slowdown in labor caused by an epidural, a Pitocin drip (uterine stimulant) is likely to be administered to speed up contractions. Contractions then arrive so strong and so frequently that recovery time is shorter, leaving less oxygen to reach the fetus. Epidurals also increase the possibility of fever and the likelihood that antibiotics will be administered or prescribed.
Following planned natural childbirth, women often feel great for a short while after delivering their babies. This euphoric feeling is the result of endorphins released in the body during labor — calming, pain-relieving hormones your body naturally produces when dealing with pain. Tests show that fewer endorphins are released if a pain medication is utilized. In addition, because of the absence of numbing drugs, tubes or needles, naturally birthing moms can get up shortly after labor and walk around or take a shower.
Greater Connection to the Experience
During natural birth, women are very alert and fully aware of the experience. They are connected to their bodies and to the process of giving birth in a profound way. Pain medications can dull the senses and create a physical detachment from the birthing process, leading many women to report dissatisfaction with their birthing experience because they were not fully alert for their first contact with baby.
An Empowering Experience
Women who experience natural childbirths often feel extremely empowered and confident. Birthing naturally and coming through the extreme demands of labor can make a woman feel stronger and less fearful about handling other challenges in life. Women who have experienced natural childbirth often use words like “invincible” and “powerful” to describe how they feel afterward.
According to a study of 126 hospitals in New York State, women who deliver under the care of a midwife are less likely to have a Cesarean section, and also less likely to have an episiotomy. That means a quicker recovery and a quicker return home, as well as fewer medical costs or complications.
If you’re wondering whether natural birth makes sense for you, we encourage you to call us and speak to one of our three Certified Nurse Midwives.