Birth is part of the natural cycle of life. Empower your birth by laboring naturally and discover the many benefits of natural childbirth.

How to have an empowered birth

Avoid the cascade of interventions

Births that begin according to their own timetable and progress naturally are safer and healthier for both mom and baby. Unfortunately, a large percentage of births now begin with interventions such as artificial rupture of membranes and the use of various medications to induce labor. Once a birth has been artificially induced, the normal physiology of birth is disrupted and the cascade of interventions begins.

"The number of women whose labor begins with induction has more than doubled since 1990."

Interfering with the natural process of childbirth causes a variety of negative outcomes including impeding the body’s ability to produce its own birth hormones, creating opportunities for infection, exposing the baby to synthetic medications and raising the likelihood of delivery by C-section. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, there is a disturbing trend toward the overuse of birth interventions in the United States. In fact, the number of women whose labor begins with induction has more than doubled since 1990. In 2008, 23 percent of labors were induced artificially and one in every three women now gives birth via C-section. The World Health Organization recommends that the C-section rate should not be higher than 5-10 percent of births.

Dangerous birth: Is childbirth becoming over-medicalized? >>

Make healthy babies

Natural childbirth is safer and carries less risks for moms and their babies. Study after study proves that infant and mother mortality rates are lower in natural births. Medications used during labor can have a variety of negative effects on baby including lowered heart rate, difficulty breathing and lowered breastfeeding success after delivery. Babies born naturally without medication are statistically more alert, responsive and have higher Apgar scores.

Have the birth you deserve. Learn the basics of birth planning >>

Move freely during labor

When birth begins with induction, membrane rupture or other interventions, many hospitals require that moms stay in bed for the duration of their labor and delivery. This is necessary to provide continuous electronic fetal monitoring and intravenous fluids to the laboring mom. However, lying on your back is one of the least effective positions to labor and birth in. The two most common positions used in hospital deliveries (lithotomy and C-position) restrict the pelvic outlet by up to 30 percent, putting unnecessary stress on the perineum and sometimes causing drops in fetal heart rate and other forms of fetal distress.

On the other hand, when labor begins spontaneously and develops naturally, moms are able to take advantage of freedom of movement. This means you can walk the halls, bounce gently on a birth ball, enjoy the soothing effects of a birthing tub or labor in any position that feels comfortable to you. As the baby moves into the birth canal, labor is much easier to endure when you can use gravity to your benefit. One of the best ways to maximize your ability to labor naturally is by hiring a birth doula to assist you. She will support you during the duration of your labor offering natural solutions for pain relief such as massage, meditation, water therapy, breathing techniques, positioning, moaning and hypnosis.

5 Good reasons to hire a birth doula >>

Have an empowered birth

For birthing moms, using medications during labor can cause a variety of undesirable effects. At a time when you most want to feel involved and in control, birth medications may make you feel groggy, lightheaded, nauseated and confused. It is much harder to push effectively when you are numb and cannot feel your lower body. Many moms who have chosen to go natural after experiencing a medicated birth have been impressed by how empowering natural childbirth can be. Solana, mom of four, describes her experience: “When I gave birth without medication, I felt so much more in touch with my own body and the primal experience of being a woman and bringing life into the world. I was surprised at how different my emotions were. During my medicated birth, I did not have the same birth high. I was just relieved it was over. After giving birth naturally, I felt empowered. I felt amazing. I felt transformed.”

More on natural childbirth

How to manage labor pain naturally
Plan a natural birth in six easy steps
Home birth or hospital?


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Comments on "Benefits of natural childbirth"

nc November 15, 2012 | 7:46 PM

I loved my natural birth. I listened to everyone who told me how terrible childbirth was, but realized they all had epidurals. How would they know? My birth wasn't that painful. I labored for 16 hours. We went to the hospital fully dilated. That was key to stay at home for as long as possible. Natural birth allowed me to feel the full release of my child, as she entered the world. That feeling was awesome. The pain was very manageable. My child came out screaming, as she wasn't drugged. Oh, she was 10 days late. Don't let them induce. I did castor oil and it worked like magic.

Brendee September 18, 2012 | 6:17 AM

I agree with Tonya- that has ALWAYS been my point. Women don't even give themselves a chance. If it's your first child and you just decide to get an epidural because " that's the thing to do", you are not even attempting to do what I believe all women are strong enough to do- have a child with no epidural. I had 2 girls with no epidural and I would do it again! That's not to say it didn't hurt! It was certainly the worst pain I've ever had. But how rewarding! Also, I know I'm a much better mom than I would be if I took the easy way out. The problem is women and people in general don't feel hey have the authority to ever question a doctor. It's so "pushed" to be induced, etc... With an induction you are pretty much setting yourself up for the need of pain meds. The induction makes your body labor much faster and more intense than it naturally would thus unnecessarily causing more pain. I'm a registered nurse so I have no problems contradicting a doc. Like I said, it's so " pushed" to speed things up, etc... instead of just letting nature happen!! But a woman has to WANT to be natural and be ready to almost have to fight for that if you give birth in a hospital. It's sad though that for the most part the doctor wins out and convinces women they need these interventions. Unfortunately, most succumb to the system. Don't forget too that those epidurals cost a pretty penny!! What would hospitals do if all of a sudden no women got them? Ladies, if you are thinking about natural birth at all, educate yourself and GO FOR IT!!! But if giving birth in a hospital versus birthing center or a place where natural is encouraged, be prepared to stand your ground. Don't be afraid of pain. We are strong.

Shannon June 06, 2012 | 3:44 PM

I had an epidural with my first. I needed it - I wasn't prepared for birth at all and have a pain tolerance of ZERO! With my next, I would consider natural (keyword: Consider). I know it's better - my baby's heart rate dropped at one point and she came out bright blue and needed to be on oxygen. I spent two hours pushing. I blame the epidural for this because you can't feel anything. It makes it hard to tell if you're even pushing. If you're going to do it naturally though, you NEED to be prepared and calm.

Kyla May 31, 2012 | 11:59 AM

Thanks so much for publishing this excellent piece on natural birth. In fact there are many, many studies showing the improved safety of natural birth vs. birth with intervention. Too many to count, really. Here is one from the Canadian Medical Association Journal that shows that even home birth is as safe or safer than hospital birth.

Tina May 31, 2012 | 11:37 AM

Great article! For those searching for research studies, here is a great study about the improved safety of natural birth vs. hospital birth from the British Medical Journal. http://www.bmj/content/330/7505/1416.full

jen May 31, 2012 | 8:14 AM

where are these studies??? would help if they were linked.

Anonymous May 30, 2012 | 12:48 PM

"Study after study proves that infant and mother mortality rates are lower in natural births." Would you cite these studies please? They'd help me a great deal.

Tonya May 25, 2012 | 4:32 PM

I LOVE this post! I delivered my son INTENTIONALLY with zero drugs. I knew I could do it and I did and it was absolutely wonderful. It was also the greatest pain I have ever experienced in my life, but it was well worth it. I know it isn't for everyone, but to those that are eager to reach for the drugs, I say, you are far stronger than you give yourself credit for! And it is a terrible shame how many women end up getting unnecessary C-sections. Greta job!

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