Childbirth is the most natural act a woman can go through. Women have been pushing out babies since the dawn of time. In our society, natural childbirth refers to the birthing process without painkillers, medicines or surgical intervention, or at least minimizing their use. While natural childbirth is a worthy goal, having a healthy baby is most important, no matter how it comes into this world. Many people feel that medicine intrudes too much into the birthing process, but modern medicine has saved countless lives. The trick is finding a middle ground so that the family is happy with the process and the outcome is positive.
When considering natural childbirth, there are many aspects to consider.
Where do you want to give birth? In the hospital? At home? At a birthing center? There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Who do you want to deliver the baby? An obstetrician or a midwife? You may not have a choice in this matter depending on your health and the status of your pregnancy. Midwifes have specific parameters that they will work within, generally healthy women with low risk pregnancies.
Do you want pain relief? Giving birth at home or in a birthing center may make it difficult (or impossible) to change your mind later, though even at the hospital you may not have the option if you wait too long in the process.
Who do you want to be in attendance? A home birth is limited by the space available in the birthing room. A birthing center birth is limited by the rules of the center, though they are generally more accommodating than in the hospital.
Have you considered hiring a labor support doula? A doula is a support person trained in the labor and delivery process and can help with the emotional and physical aspects, such as positioning and massage. Doulas can also assist in the post partum period as well.
What is your comfort level and is your pregnancy high risk? Many women would never dream of giving birth outside of the hospital setting, while others would prefer not to go anywhere near one, trusting that their midwife will recognize problems early enough to transport to the hospital in a timely fashion.
Do your research, talk with your family and medical professional, and come up with a birth plan that works for you. Then be prepared to abandon it, if necessary.