Top 5 Reasons Women Want a Natural Childbirth

Young woman enduring labor pains in hospital.

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Natural childbirth is certainly a hotly debated topic. There are those who wonder why with the advent of epidural anesthesia someone would choose not to have pain-relieving medications in labor. There are others who aren't sure what they want and go in and try to have an unmedicated birth. And then there are women who know exactly what they don't want—pain relief in labor. Here are just a handful of the reasons a woman might choose to avoid pain medications in labor.

1. No Pain Medication Risks to the Baby

Many mothers who have chosen to have an unmedicated birth do so because they do not want to assume the risks of medications in labor. They worry about the potential problems that can occur when there is medication involved. So they opt to skip pain medication for their childbirth experience. Some pain medications can increase the risk of fetal distress or other interventions.

2. Unimpeded Labor

Some mothers hope that avoiding pain medication will also allow them to avoid a c-section. They feel that having an unmedicated birth removes some risk of c-section by allowing labor to progress normally. Most of the time labor is merely plodding along, one contraction at a time. There is a time for interventions, but there is also a time when interventions add to the mix of potential complications.

3. Natural Mindset

There are many families who believe in doing everything with a natural mindset. This can include healthy eating, exercising, avoiding unnecessary medications, and generally living a healthy lifestyle. When it comes time to give birth, a mother who has followed this philosophy may believe that this is a natural extension of her current lifestyle. She is also likely to choose practitioners who share her belief that pregnancy is a natural process, not a medical event.

4. Unable to Have Medications

There are also some women who cannot have pain medications for a variety of reasons. They may be unable to have an epidural because of previous spinal injury or other reasons. Perhaps IV pain medications are not an option because of allergies or even previous addiction issues. These women have no real choice but to find a way to labor without medication. They may need additional support.

5. Previous Birth Experience

Positive or negative, some women choose to give birth without pain medication because of a previous birth experience. Perhaps they had an epidural previously and were not impressed with the results. Or perhaps they had an unmedicated birth previously and had a great experience and wish to repeat that experience for this birth. How you gave birth before will impact your choices for having an unmedicated or medicated birth in future pregnancies.

A Word From Verywell

Labor is a great equalizer. Sometimes you have planned to get medications and you change your mind, or something happens and they are no longer an option for you. Sometimes you plan to avoid medications, and they wind up being the best option for you. An open mind is imperative in labor.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.