Reasons Why Someone May Choose a Natural Childbirth

Mother cradling newborn baby girl

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With today's medical technology, some patients have the option of feeling nothing in labor. They can show up early in labor and get an epidural and settle in until their baby is born comfortably. So, why would someone want a natural childbirth?

Natural childbirth is actually something that many women are open to considering, up to 60% of women who had had a medicated birth reported, in a recent study, that they were open to the idea of natural childbirth or unmedicated birth. Yet the list of reasons why women want natural childbirth is varied. Here are some typical responses.

Easier Recovery 

Some mothers say that medications used in labor cause them to feel worse in the postpartum period. One mother described it as having to recover from everything they had "done to her." Not using medication in labor allows a mom to have less medication to recover from, though labor is still hard work.

Less Risk of Cesarean Section or Other Interventions

As the cesarean section rate has steadily risen in the last 20 years, there are women who still like to avoid unnecessary surgery. While how much a medication increases your risk of cesarean can vary widely for a variety of reasons, some estimates are high, like a 50% increase.

Even when you are not talking cesarean birth, there are more interventions used in medicated births because of the extra monitoring and risks associated with medicine. This might be external or internal fetal monitoring increase, IV fluids, amniotomy (breaking your water), induction or augmentation of labor, etc.

More Control 

Having an epidural or other medication may make you feel odd or out of control. This may even be something as simple as being numb frightening you. If you don't like this feeling or it would cause you anxiety, natural childbirth might be a better option for you. While you can't control labor, you can control, to some extent, how you feel during labor emotionally and physically.

It's How My Body Is Made 

There are also a growing number of women who simply trust that this is how their bodies were made—to give birth. They have faith that with the guidance from their practitioners and support team that they can make it through labor comfortably and empowered without the use of medications.

It is important to realize that it's also not always a natural vs. epidural birth. One of the secrets of natural childbirth is to realize that the choice is not simply epidural or pain. Women who choose to have natural childbirth have a lot of tools that they use to labor comfortably. This can include:

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