Times change, and often we find that what once was old is new again.
This is the case with natural childbirth.
At the beginning of the
Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, giving birth at home became
harder due to crowded living spaces and often filthy living conditions.
As a result many lower class and urban women were drawn to
newly available hospitals.
During this time most middle-class and
wealthy women continued to labor at home.
There was an increasing availability of hospitals in the early 1900s.
The middle classes in
the United States were very attracted to the medicalization of giving birth.
So it was that more women began going into the hospital for
labor and delivery.
Beginning in the 1940s a move away from hospital births and back to
home deliveries began.
Mothers and childbirth professionals started to
reexamine the commonly held assumptions about the safety of
Doctors Michel Odent and Frederick Leboyer and midwives like Ina May Gaskin began promoting alternatives such as
homebirth, birthing centers, and water birth, rather than hospital model.
It should be noted that research has shown that low-tech
midwifery provides labor outcomes as good as or better than those
found in hospital settings.
Except for a small percentage of high-risk
cases there are also fewer interventions.
It has been said that nature's way is the best way.
Natural childbirth is a philosophy of childbirth that is based on the belief that women
who are adequately prepared are naturally able to give birth without
standard medical interventions.
It is seen as much more benefical than
hospital birthing techniques that use surgical interventions like
caesarean sections, ventouse deliveries, forceps, episiotomies and
anesthetic medications such as epidurals.
There are differing viewpoints on what may constitute a natural childbirth.
The definition of natural may range from any intervention deemed
appropriate to no intervention at all.
This path to childbirth may be
followed during a midwife attended homebirth, midwife attended
hospital birth, a physician attended hospital birth or an unassisted birth.
The application of this philosophy is obviously open to the
mother or parent's interpretation.
More and more women are seeking this natural, unmedicated approach to
labor and birth. Natural birth will suit you best if you want to
remain in control of your body as much as possible.
You will be able to be a more active participant throughout labor.
You can also minimize routine interventions such as continuous electronic monitoring.
Be aware of the potential for pain and discomfort as part
of giving birth if you choose to go this route.
But mothers often feel
empowered and deeply satisfied by natural childbirth if they go into
it with the right preparation and support.
Some women have reported
that being in charge helps lessen their perception of pain.
Some of the advantages of natural childbirth include a low potential
for harm or side effects for you or your baby due to the non-invasive
techniques involved. You will also encounter no loss of sensation or
alertness and this will allow you move about more freely and move into
positions that help you stay comfortable during labor. With natural
childbirth you are much less likely to need vacuum extraction, forceps
delivery, bladder catheterization or drugs like oxytocin which make
your contractions stronger. Women who get epidurals will frequently
need such interventions.
Finally, the techniques natural birthing utilizes such as
visualization, self-hypnosis and breathing exercises may be used by
new moms as relaxation methods in the sometimes challenging days and
nights to come. The things you learned that helped you cope with your
birthing and labor can be called upon once again to assist you during
those times when caring for a newborn feels especially stressful. Your
natural birthing methods can really help you to have an easier time
dealing with postpartum discomfort, depression and the early days of
breastfeeding, especially if breastfeeding is new to you.