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.
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.
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.
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."
This seven minute documentary discusses the role of doulas during childbirth.
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