Elena wrote that she’s committed to having a 100 percent natural childbirth because she’s concerned about the effect of pain management interventions on her baby’s health and her ability to deliver vaginally. She’s 100 percent clueless, however on how to achieve that goal. Elena, you’ve made the first step in reaching your goal by seeking out information because when it comes to having the birth you want, information is the key.
A natural, unmedicated vaginal birth is an entirely achievable and reasonable goal for about 85 percent of pregnant women, according to Healthy People 2020. The other 15 percent have health complications that put them in a high-risk category where they’ll need certain interventions, such as a Cesarean section, to make birth safe, either for mom or baby. We know, however, that even though 85 percent of women are in the low-risk category for a vaginal birth, only about 67.2 percent of women in the U.S. have vaginal births according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The other 32.8 percent have C-sections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 61 percent of women having a singleton vaginal birth have epidurals. The other 39 percent either have an unmedicated birth or use a little pain medication. Some of these women go “natural” because there’s no time for an epidural or it wasn’t available. Many others, however, are like Elena and didn’t want or need it.
If you’re hoping to go au natural try following these seven tips:
1. Get a solid prenatal education
Seek out classes that include how labor and birth work and natural labor pain management techniques, such as breathing, self-hypnosis, relaxation and other coping mechanisms. Your hospital probably offers an evening or weekend course, but that might not be enough information, especially if they have a high epidural or C-section rate. Instead, research independent educators. Try a few different classes or styles until you find one that feels like a good fit.
2. Pick a health care provider who’s into natural birth
Some are, some aren’t and your chances for achieving your goal are increased if the people taking care of you are on the same page. You might also want to hire a doula and, if you’re delivering in a hospital, ask for a labor nurse who’s into natural births, too.
3. Don’t gain too much weight
Labor tends to go more smoothly for women who aren’t overweight. They have fewer complications and require fewer medical interventions.
How much weight should I gain? Use our tool to calculate your BMI.