Natural Childbirth Dropout?

Most parents understand the many benefits of birthing naturally, but childbirth is something that is not always under your control. Even with a rock solid birth plan, a top notch midwife and 12 weeks of birthing classes under your belt, you are not guaranteed to birth naturally. How do we avoid the deep disappointment and guilt that comes with not achieving our ideal birth plan?

Newborn baby

With Cesarean rates at an all-time high in the United States -- comprising of 31% of all live births -- it is understandable that mothers interested in having a natural birth are concerned. Despite a growing faction of society that recognizes and comprehends the dangers of high-tech birth, we still live in a culture that reveres technology. Our birthing rituals now revolve around drugs and interventions that we believe will keep us safe, despite growing evidence to the contrary. In fact, studies now show that the more interventions used during labor, the more likely a woman and/or her baby will suffer complications, and ultimately, deliver by C-section.

In response to this, mothers interested in natural childbirth are turning to midwives and doulas who have a much lower rates of birth interventions and in turn have a higher success rate for natural childbirth. Techniques like massage, meditation, water therapy, breathing, moaning, freedom of movement and comfortable birthing positions that work with -- rather than against -- gravity are common in births that are a midwife oversees. On the other hand, 20% of all hospital births are now induced artificially, something that has been proven to have a direct relationship with the growing number of birth complications and high C-section rate in the United States.

Become your own advocate

Considering the birthing climate we are living in, it is obvious that if we desire a natural birth, we must become our own advocates and take charge of our birth planning. There are many steps you can take to prepare yourself for a successful natural childbirth. Having a well thought-out birth plan, a true understanding of the benefits of natural childbirth, a like-minded care provider and a natural childbirth-friendly birthing facility are just a few of the most important things you can do to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Accept the unexpected

On the other hand, while it is true that the scheduled and high-tech births that are common today put women at risk for unnecessary birth complications, there are real complications that are sometimes unavoidable. Malposition of the baby, failure to progress, placenta previa, uterine rupture, cord prolapse, preeclampsia and drop in maternal or fetal heart rate are just a few examples of complications that will require immediate intervention and sometimes Cesarean section.

Honor your unique birthing experience

It is important to recognize that despite your best intentions, you may not experience the vaginal birth you hoped for. DONA certified doula Rosemary Walker says, "Even with careful planning, childbirth is something that is not always under your control. You must remember that even though it feels like it is, your baby's birth is not your entrance exam into motherhood. Your success at natural childbirth will have little to no relationship to your overall success as a loving and conscientious parent. The ultimate goal is a healthy baby, no matter where or how he emerges."

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Comments on "Honoring your unique birth experience"

Heather October 31, 2010 | 9:01 AM

a really interesting and useful article, I echo what KLZ said above, She Knows are lucky to have you

Kristi Valentini October 28, 2010 | 10:39 AM

I had a very disappointing first labor, in a medical setting, where interventions that I now question were used (namely pitocin and trying to turn the baby around when she could have been delivered sunny side up - the trying to turn her ended up with her getting stuck sideways). I would definitely agree with this article that having an advocate to help you be as true to your birth plan as possible is the best thing. I remember at one point during my 3.5 hours of pushing with the baby stuck sideways, I started vocalizing and the nurse told me to "shhh!" If I had more confidence and energy at the time, I would have given her a piece of my mind. If I had a doula or another advocate to stand up for me, they could have asked for a different nurse or explained to the nurse the advantage of me being able to make sounds or wait to start pushing until the baby had moved down in the canal and I naturally felt the urge.

Alysia October 28, 2010 | 7:40 AM

This is a great and empowering article. I had a plan in place and it all went by the wayside for an emergency c-section. That's just the way it goes and because of it I have a healthy boy (and two others that followed!) Thanks for sharing this.

KLZ October 28, 2010 | 6:46 AM

You are always such a great source of information - I hope She Knows knows how lucky they are to have you! I didn't have a strict birth plan because I didn't want to be disappointed if things didn't go according to plan. I know myself and I know that was the only way to do it for me. But, to each their own.

peryl October 27, 2010 | 3:01 PM

Naomi - I love this article so much. I'm planning to quote you all over the place.

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