First things first- In the past, when you heard the term “natural birth”, it was commonly being used to describe any vaginal, non-surgical birth…. That is no longer the case. More and more these days, its being used, in my opinion, in it’s correct context- Natural birth today means just that- NATURAL birth with no interventions & no medication. For the purpose of this post, I’ll use both terms (natural & non-medicated) interchangeably.
During a natural birth, there is no prematurely inducing the mother, no speeding things along to keep a doctor’s calendar on schedule (sorry to break it to you ladies, but with the exception of emergency situations, most of these interventions are most certainly NOT being done for you nor your baby’s well being. The implementation of labor inducing medication & interventions was largely an attempt to address issues of efficiency in obstetrics… not comfort!
We’ve all heard the old expression, “time is money”. When modern day obstetrics replaced the midwifery model, the comfort of the mother was unfortunately no longer center stage. It quickly was replaced by a bottom dollar, keep it moving mentality of labor.
So what if I told you, your doctor hasn’t exactly given you the low down on WHY you should consider a non-medicated birth? Wouldn’t you like to make a truly informed decision… well keep reading mama!
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty…..
What’s in it for YOU…
1.Less physically restrictive
Want to know one HUGE benefit you have that the woman in the next room with the epidural doesn’t have…. YOU CAN ACTUALLY MOVE!!!! That’s right- since an epidural essentially causes you to lose sensation and control of your legs, most hospitals won’t allow you to walk around once your epidural has been administered. And if you can’t walk, then guess what else you can’t do without assistance- go the restroom!
Cue the first unnecessary intervention- a catheter. Lovely!
It’s also widely accepted (even among western medicine) that gravity helps your labor progress naturally- walking, squatting, swaying your hips, using a birthing ball. ALL OF IT HELPS to support your body & progress labor – an epidural does the polar opposite! So take advantage and get moving!
If you’re anything like me, when the going gets tough, you’ll be so glad that you’re not confined to a bed. Moving is not only physically productive to labor, but it’s also A HUGE MENTAL BOOST. My team had me play a game of tug of war! Sounds a little intense, right? IT WAS. But it also gave me something to focus on!
2. Shorter labor
Guess what else an epidural makes you lose control over? The way you push & work through your contraction. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, “In a very real sense, the pain of each contraction becomes a guide for the laboring woman. The positions and activities she chooses in response to what she feels actually helps labor progress by increasing the strength and efficiency of the contractions and encouraging the baby to settle in and move down the birth canal. When the pain is entirely removed, the feedback system is disrupted and labor is likely to slow down and become less efficient”.
3. Less likelihood of interventions aka “The Cascade of Interventions”
So likely are the odds that you’ll need several other interventions when choosing a medicated birth, that they actually had to name the cycle of events- “The Cascade of Interventions”.
While I won’t get into all the possible scenarios you’re opening yourself up to with a medicated birth (which by the way absolutely DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU THAT YOU WON’T FEEL PAIN), I can tell you that you will drastically cut your chances of having one of the most serious interventions- a cesarean section delivery. Today, the national average for c-sections in a hospital setting is 30% compared to only 3.7% nationally for women who go the natural route.
4. Faster recovery
Here’s one benefit that is too often overlooked until your bundle of joy arrives & and every bit of your mom instincts kick in & tells you to get out of that bed & care for that baby- RECOVERY!
This particular benefit, I would encourage you to talk to other moms- NOT DOCTORS about! Why? Simple, doctors don’t have much to gain from you choosing a non-medicated birth, nor do they leave with you once you’re discharged from the hospital. As such, they are likely to downplay the HUGE difference in recovery from one labor experience to another.
Talk to your mom friends, colleagues & family members and ask them about their post labor experiences. Were they up and at it after their delivery? Did they immediately feel re-energized & perfectly capable of caring for their little one? How long did it take for their body to heal- days, weeks or months? I think if you do your own survey among women who went medicated vs non-medicated, you’ll find the latter group felt better way faster!
5. You’re actually PRESENT
Ok, so you’re not particularly concerned about avoiding unnecessary interventions or recovering super fast. Well are you concerned with not feeling dazed and confused, nauseous & disoriented during one of the most important days of your life? I WAS.
Listen, this is not meant to undermine the experience of mom’s who choose medication, but I also will not sit here and pretend like there’s not a clear difference in how you will experience labor. If presence of mind means something to you then you deserve to know the hard knock truth- medication largely robs you of the most beautiful and empowering experience in your life. Choose wisely!
I don’t know one single woman or man who doesn’t like the idea of paying LESS! Regardless of whether or not you have insurance, you will be saving your family tons of money by choosing a non-medicated birth. Take that money mama & go start a college fund, treat yourself to something nice for all that hard work! Consider the debt that will accumulate quickly with a medicated birth when the average cost of a vaginal hospital birth is upwards of $15,000, a cesarean can run you even twice as much- but what’s the cost of a non-medicated birth with a midwife? $2,000-$4,000. CHA-CHING!!!!
So now that you know the benefits, learn how NOT to let the naysayers talk you out of one of the most important decisions of your life. Check out my story & post, “A Labor of Love; One Mom’s Determination to Ignore the Naysayers & Embrace a Non-Medicated Birth”.