Guest Post: Why I Chose Natural Childbirth

Natural ChildbirthMany of my readers are women, and while I might have quite a bit of head knowledge to offer them on this particular topic, I haven’t experienced it firsthand! That’s why I asked natural childbirth educator Jenny Yarbrough to share her thoughts on natural childbirth.

When people ask me about my birth experiences and I tell them I had natural births with all three of my children, there are typically two responses:

  1. “I don’t think I could do that!”
  2. “Wow! Good for you! I could never do that.”

Natural Childbirth

It’s funny–although I am meeting more and more mothers who are birthing naturally, the majority of women don’t consider it an option. They may be interested in natural childbirth but don’t think that they could ever have one. Many women do not have any experience with a natural birth, other than what they see in the movies, and I’ll tell you, I have seen very few accurate representations.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I decided I would not have an epidural. I made this decision, not with the noblest of reasons. To be honest, I was simply scared to death of the procedure. I began to do a bit of research on epidurals and what began as a fear of a needle in my back grew into a fear of the risks that came with the epidural. My mind was made up. I would give birth naturally.

You may be wondering what I read that frightened me out of having the kind of birth that so many women assume is safe–and normal for that matter. There is a time and place for interventions, but they should not be used as the norm, rather as a back up, and always with the mother’s consent. Here are several of the risks of having an epidural, things that your doctor may not tell you:

  • An epidural brings an increased cesarean section rate. An epidural at 2 cm dilation increases your chance of a c-section by 50%! At 3 cm your chances increase by 33%. At 4 cm they increase by 26%. At 5 cm, there doesn’t seem to be a statistical difference between those who do and don’t receive an epidural.
  • Epidurals lead to prolonged labors in the 1st and 2nd stages.
  • 20-26% of labors with an epidural result in abnormal presentation of the baby, or failure to descend, which is an indication for c-section.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) occurs among 1/3 of women who have an epidural, serious hypotension in about 12%. This results in a lack of oxygen to the baby, which is a major risk to the baby, often ending in fetal distress.
  • Your likelihood of having delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction is 5x greater with an epidural.
  • Some women have pain at the site of the injection for weeks, months, and even years.
  • Nausea, vomiting, maternal fever.
  • Severe headache from a punctured dura.

All this for a method of pain relief that is not even 100% effective! Believe me when I say that this information scared me more than the pain of a natural labor. For me, the benefits of a natural birth, one without an epidural or Pitocin (which is used to induce labor), far outweighed the risks of the epidural.

So what are the benefits of a natural birth? Well, for starters you have none of those terrible risks that come with a medicated birth. That in itself is a huge benefit. Besides that…

  • Natural labors are often shorter.
  • Women who birth naturally have a better breast feeding success rate. Their babies are more alert and show more interest in the initial feedings, aiding in the bonding process that is so crucial in those first couple of hours.
  • Natural birth is better for the mother and baby.
  • Recovery from a natural birth is faster. I walked to my post partum room!
  • The mother feels a greater connection to the birth experience when she is alert and aware.
  • Natural childbirth is empowering and what a wonderful way to begin the journey of motherhood!

There are so many more benefits… too many to mention in this short article. You can have a natural birth at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital… yes, in a hospital! I had all three of my children in the hospital with the support of my husband, family, and a doula. There are steps you can take and tools you can use to cope naturally with the pain of labor. Preparation is key when approaching birth naturally. One of my favorite books on natural childbirth is Active Birth, by Janet Balaskas. I recommend it to every mother I teach.

The important thing is to remember that God made a women’s body to do this! You’d be surprised at how instinctual birth is. Go with the flow, trust your instincts and listen to your body. You will be empowered!

(research on risks of epidural from the article “The Medical Risks of Epidural Anesthesia” by Lewis E. Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph. D.)

Josh Axe

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3 comments so far - add yours!

  1. Thank you for this post! This is my goal this time with my 3rd pregnancy! Epidural didn’t work with my first but did with my second. I did have pain at the site for months though and recovery was much slower. I want a healthy delivery for the baby and I this time with no meds!

  2. Bambi says:

    I was very upset my first pregnancy because it was extremely important to me to have a natural birth and although I made that point known to everyone, no one respected my wishes. My family would not let me have a birth at home and kept telling me I wouldn’t be able to do it without an epidural. At the hospital, every one of the nurses laughed in my face when I told them I wanted a natural birth. I told them not to even ask me about an epidural but they persisted to push the epidural on me. Eventually, they convinced me to take a medication that they told me would help me sleep and help with the pain. I didn’t know it was going to make me so high I couldn’t even think or talk right. I don’t remember anything I said or did until my family told me about it afterwards, they said they never seen me act so strange. After they drugged me, then they convinced me to take the epidural. If I was in my right mind, I would have never done it, but I ended up signing the form without even reading a word on the 10 pages worth of side effects and warnings. Fortunately, I didn’t experience any side effects except extreme regret and a very unhappy birthing experience.

    I just found out I’m pregnant with my second, and I am not going to let anyone tell me I can’t have a natural birth. I tried asking people and doctors before about having a natural birth and a home birth but it seemed no one supported natural births. I went to 4 different doctors my first pregnancy and when I would ask questions about a natural birth, they would say “lets worry about that when we get to that point.” The doctor I stayed with even wanted to induce me so he could take longer vacation time!
    If anyone can give advice about how to avoid getting in the same mess as my last pregnancy, or point me in the right direction to find care that supports natural births, I would greatly appreciate it. Even though you can have a natural birth in a hospital, I don’t believe hospitals actually support it, and because of my last experience, I’d prefer to stay away from them this time. Please help me find reputable information, searching ‘home births’ on the internet doesn’t get me very far to finding real care.

    • Dr. Axe says:

      Bambi, thank you for sharing your story, people need to see and read this! Where are you located? I can ask my facebook community if they can refer you to someone in your area. Email Amy@draxe.com. Blessings.

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