As a naturopath, it’s only natural (pardon the pun) that I would be a big supporter of natural birth. It’s what I wanted for myself and for my babies because I wanted the least amount of interventions possible. I believe there is an innate intelligence in the way nature unfolds, there is a reason for each step of the process, and it’s no different in giving birth. In this case I wanted to embrace the pain, because I knew it was part of the natural course of having a baby.
Giving birth naturally has many rewards for both mother and child: The mother feels a high sense of accomplishment, her rate of recovery is often faster and she is quickly able to attend to her baby. At the same time, the baby is alert and ready to begin feeding. Any possible unwanted side effects due to medications have been thwarted. Of course there are instances when medical interventions are necessary in order to have a healthy delivery, so talk to your doctor
The first step towards having a natural birth is wanting one. Complications aside, you should be convinced of your reasons for wanting to deliver your baby with the least interventions possible. Once you have made the decision, it’s important to be well informed about the natural birth process. Knowing what your body is capable of can enhance confidence in your ability to give birth without the use of pain medications.
Having a support person is vital when giving birth, and even more so when giving birth naturally. Studies show that women who have a continuous birth companion during labor experience fewer Caesarean sections and shorter labors, they require less medication, and fewer induction and augmentation interventions. The benefits for newborns include lower rates of fetal distress and fewer admissions to intensive care units. Women with support report greater self-esteem, less depression, as well as an increased ability to care for their newborns. This support person is not necessarily a husband or partner. Doulas also provide support for birthing women. They do not have a medical role; their job is to be there for the mother before, during, and after labor.
Women are highly sensitive during pregnancy, and being exposed to negative images or information about pregnancy and delivery can cause unnecessary fear and stress. Even books about what to expect during pregnancy can make you focus on all the things that could go wrong. While it is important to be informed, avoid information that is fear-based. Remember, your mind is a powerful force that can easily influence your physical state of well-being.
Confidence in your abilities as a woman to birth your baby naturally is of utmost importance. Women have been giving birth without the use of pain medication for millennia. If it is something you want to do, you can most definitely achieve your goal. A few key points to remember: Knowledge is power, every birth is different, and if things don’t work out the way you envisioned them, it’s okay. Be flexible – a healthy baby (and mama) is the ultimate goal.
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Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a naturopathic doctor and mother of two, who works at Beijing United Family Hospital. To find out more, check out her website at www.drmelissarodriguez.com