10 Steps to Natural Childbirth

Woman having a water birth.

Science Photo Library - IAN HOOTON / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

  1. Choose a supportive practitioner. No matter whether you use a doctor or midwife, be sure that your practitioner has a lot of experience in caring for women who want to have an unmedicated birth. Midwives usually specialize in this type of birth. 
  2. Select a place of birth that will help you. While home births and birth centers provide you with the best locations for a natural birth because they specialize in natural birth, you can have a natural birth in a hospital setting. Good planning, proper preparation, and good support are essential, no matter where you give birth. Birth centers or home birth can be a great option for you.
  3. Have a birth plan. A birth plan is a way for you to effectively communicate your preferences for your birth with your practitioner, the staff who is caring for you during labor and your birth team. 
  4. Hire a doula. The use of a professional doula has been shown not only to reduce the requests for epidural anesthesia, but it also cuts the cesarean rates in half and shortens the length of labor according to medical studies. 
  5. Learn about labor positioning. How you move in labor will determine how well you relieve pain in your labor. The positions you choose can help your baby line up with your pelvis and speed your labor all while relieving pain.
  6. Use a Birth Ball. A birth or physiotherapy ball is a great way to help you move around in labor while taking a load off your feet. The ball can be used in any setting and even in the shower. 
  7. Take a childbirth class. A childbirth class will not only give you great information on the stages of labor, pain relief techniques, breathing, massage and more, but it will also give you information on medications like the epidural and cesarean section should you need them. 
  8. Read a good book. Reading books is a great way to gather a large amount of knowledge as well as expose yourself to more stories from women sharing how they found birth. Reading practical books as well as birth stories is a lot of fun!
  9. Get support from like-minded friends and family. There will be plenty of naysayers. Be sure to surround yourself with supportive people who have been there. 
  10. Learn about pain-relieving techniques. From classes, books, your friends and your support team, there are lots of places to gather this knowledge. Learn about water birth, massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, and many more techniques.

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