Pregnant? Consider Natural Child Birth and Home Births

“The World Health Organization has repeatedly implored the U.S. medical authorities to return to a midwife-based system of maternity care as one way to help reduce our scandalously high mortality rates.” –

If you’re pregnant, know someone who is, or plan to become pregnant in the future you’re probably thinking about how that baby is going to get here. Now of course we all know it takes nine months for the baby to grow but once those nine months are over how it proceeds from there is a matter of personal preference.

Maybe you have a firm idea in your mind of how you want your childbirth experience to go or maybe you’re going back and forth between the options not sure what to do and which method to choose.

Again, as it is with everything, as close to natural is the best – for both baby and mother. Having a baby is one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have. It’s a good idea to take the time before baby comes to really decide how you want this experience to go for you, baby, and your entire family.

As Close to Nature is Best

Often women experiencing their first birth and pregnancy want all the precautions taken and are in a state of some fear.

Many at this point opt for the perceived safety of a hospital to have their babies. Hospitals offer doctors, nurses, equipment, emergency options should a problem arise, and of course pain killers in the form of epidurals and narcotics.  Each of these options come at a price and possible negative effects.  In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, over fifty percent of women giving birth at hospitals use epidural anesthesia. This potent form of pain control has disadvantages you may or may not be aware of.

12 Potential Negative Effects of Epidurals to the Mom

  1. Drop in blood pressure.
  2. Must lie in bed which can prolong labor.
  3. Severe headache
  4. Continuous fetal heart rate monitoring
  5. Challenges with pushing
  6. Numbness and needing assistance with walking
  7. Rare cases can result in permanent nerve damage.
  8. Shivering
  9. Ringing in the ears
  10. Backache
  11. Nausea
  12. Urination issues

While epidurals can offer pain relief, the potential negatives outweigh the benefits. I advise you to strongly consider the negatives of epidurals before choosing to have one.

If you take a moment to think about it, women have been having babies outside of hospitals for many years now without doctors, epidurals, or other fancy equipment that comes with hospitals.
And when it comes to babies, epidurals bring along a whole lot of other potential problems and complications – ones you really want to consider before opting for an epidural.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the following risks are associated with epidurals for the unborn child:

  • Trouble ‘latching on’ during breastfeeding
  • Respiratory depression
  • Fetal malpositioning
  • Increase in fetal heart rate variability
  • Increase need for forceps
  • Increase need for vacuum
  • Increase rate of caesarians
  • Increase need for episiotomies

You should really educate yourself pick your options with care. A lasting impact may be left on you and your unborn child.

Choosing All Natural Childbirth

Again, I want to remind you that women have been giving birth to babies without epidurals for thousands of years now. God designed the female body for giving birth and naturally handling the pain with endorphins. Although parts of labor can be intense, the reward of an unmedicated, healthy, happy baby is well worth the price of temporary pain.

Once you decided on having a natural childbirth, a great way to evaluate what you want to do is to speak with other moms who have had an unmedicated birth. These women are usually strong proponents of natural childbirth and very willing to show their support.  Also, spend time reading books on childbirth, attend a private childbirth class that focuses on natural methods of handling pain.

Location Options for Childbirth

Today the trends in having babies are moving towards more natural methods that present a lower risk for both mother and baby. Depending on where you live, you can opt to have your baby at home or at a birthing center. A midwife is usually available to come to both places.

Some women are afraid of having their babies at home. They fear a problem that would require medical attention would arise and they’d be too far from a hospital to get help. Just because you have planned a homebirth does not mean you cannot transfer to a hospital if complications ensue.  Remember that many problems in labor today a side effect of an intervention.  Many homebirth midwives even have a relationship with a doctor and hospital where they can take laboring moms. Consider how far are you from the nearest hospital? How long would it take you to get there at the very busiest time of day?

If a homebirth does not seem like the right choice for you, look for a birthing center in your area. Some hospitals today offer a birthing center option. This gives you all the comforts of being at home along with the security of the hospital there.

When it comes to having a baby there are many choices; location, assistance and even who is in the room. Take the time to look at the pro’s and con’s of each, then compare them to your specific situation and make the best decision possible.

Once you hold your new baby in your arms you will realize the planning was all worth the investment.


Josh Axe

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10 comments so far - add yours!

  1. Francis says:

    I have a two year old and another little one on the way. With my daughter I chose the epidural as late in the labor as I could. I went to the hospital as late as possible and when it was time and my body was ready for that epidural I realized that sometimes drugs are a blessing! With my second child I consider natural birth more than I did with my first, but I will more than likely opt for the epidural. I am one who feels that we are blessed with drugs for use in moderation, our society however has come to rely on it too much. I refuse all other drugs during and after delivery but the epidural is a miracle!
    The hospital that I delivered my daughter at was amazing. It was clean, created to feel like you were at home, it was private, the nurses were knowledgable and very friendly and they let me stay in charge of the whole process. This was unlike anything I had expected after hearing other women complain about their experiences in the hospital. I take charge of my pregnancy, layout a plan that I feel is best for me and the baby. I believe if Mom is suffering and tired then the baby will too so you have to consider your personal health issues and concerns when creating your own birth plan. I felt that choosing a plan that comforted me and allowed my body to rest would give me the ability to focus on my child and let my body do it’s job without causing complications brought on by fear and fatigue. I felt this was best for not just me but my unborn child as well, and I couldn’t have asked for a better labor and delivery. All of those scary stories and shows with screaming women (some reality and some not) were nothing that I experienced. It was a very short labor and no yelling or fear was involved. I think if a woman makes that personal birthing choice based on her doctors advise to her and babies health, knowing full well what she is going into, whether it be natural or not, then she will not be afraid and her and baby will be alright. I also understand that complications do happen, things that are unexpected and that will naturally create concern or panic in any woman, and that is why I like the idea of being on location with quick medical help in the event that an unexpected problem should arise.
    Childbirth is a painful and challenging process with or without medication, and mothers and babies are at risk for many difficulties either way. You just have to choose what you feel is best for you and then when the time comes relax, and know that it’s in God’s hands. You are a team. You, that baby, and God, are helping bring life into the world.

  2. Christie says:

    I had midwife-assisted natural births with all three of my children, and I can not say enough positive things about my experience. For anyone considering natural birth, I strongly recommend looking into midwives that will either deliver at home or in a birthing center, because everything about hospitals and (most) obgyns runs completely counter to natural birth. If you are educated and a vocal advocate for yourself, you can definitely succeed at natural birth in a hospital setting, but it will be an uphill battle. I have found midwifery to not only be more than competent, but loving and supportive beyond anything you will find in a traditional obgyn practice and hospital based births.

  3. Mary Dupuy says:

    I experienced the birth of my first child on Thanksgiving morning 2010. I was in a tub of warm water in the living room of my house. I had with me my husband, a friend and labor coach, and my two midwives. It was spectacular! I planned to bring my son into the world in a peaceful and comfortable environment and that’s exactly what happened.
    My pregnancy was healthy and normal making me an excellent candidate for homebirth. I will NEVER birth a baby another way as long as we are both healthy and normal.
    I will cherish forever the moment my son was born and I held him on my chest in the dim light of our comfortable, safe space. My midwives were gently doing all the necessary newborn checks with him still in my arms.
    After I cut the cord, we wrapped the baby and handed him for the first time to his daddy. That was so beautiful!
    With the help of my wonderful and caring midwives, I was able to shower in my own bathroom, put on my own clothes, and get into my own comfy bed with my newborn and husband with in two hours of giving birth.
    I would urge anyone to consider having a birth like this if at all possible. You can have a baby naturally. You don’t have to be afraid of the “What if’s” when you have knowledgable and experienced midwives. We have so much to be thankful for, and with our sweet son arriving on Thanksgiving Day we will never be able to forget it.

    For anyone interested, my midwives are here in middle Tennessee are Nashville Midwifery Service. Kimberly Spencer CPM and Marecha Jackson CNM may be able to help you achieve your homebirth goals!

  4. lsharp says:

    “…parts of labor can be intense,” “can”….wHaT an understatement!!! Any woman will tell you, it hurts like… you know what!!!
    Anyway… I have had a variety of births. Firstborn was in a hospital and born naturally (without drugs). Second baby was also in a hospital but with induction and epidural. Third baby was at home and, of course, born naturally once again. I think the homebirth was the best, by far. And even my husband agrees! If I tried to explain all my reasoning, I would have to write a mini-book. So, the best thing to do is educate yourself, weigh the options, pray if you believe in the power of that, and then make a very informed decision.

  5. Amber W. says:

    3 of 4 of my babies were born at home… and all three of the home births were such wonderful experiences! I was one of those people who had a hospital horror story with my first (induced @ 37 weeks for my Dr.’s convenience, epidural that didn’t work, baby had some health issues for awhile after he was born). A home birth, if it’s a right fit for your family, is such a great choice! I love the shorter recovery time that comes with no drugs (yes, the labor hurts like heck, but it’s worth it!) With my hospital birth, I had to sit on a boppy for 4 months afterward (and that was my 6 lb 6 oz baby). At home, with no drugs and 9 and 10 lb babies, I felt great within a day or two. Also, it’s so much easier for the whole family to bond with the new baby when the other siblings don’t have to come visit him in the hospital for the first 2 or 3 days after the birth…they can just come down the hall whenever they want!

    Great article, Dr. Axe!!! Thanks for being an advocate for natural births and home births! I wish there were more doctors like you out there.

  6. Francis says:

    After speaking to other women about their hospital births recently (this discussion got me thinking) I realized that I had delivered my daughter in a birthing center that was part of the hospital. I had no idea of the difference and wondered what all the commotion was with a hospital birth. Now I know why I loved my L&D and the hospital so much!
    Yes it seems that I should have known this info going in but being my first delivery and being blessed to just randomly choose an OB who delivered at this birthing center I ended up naively having a great birthing experience. I also randomly chose my next OB from the phone book when moving here to TN two years ago. He was great and helped me to confront certain health issues naturally before I had to resort to medicine, and the issues were resolved so I kept him. He also happens to deliver at a birthing center. I think I must have been guided to these people for my own protection. LOL
    One day when I am brave enough to venture into that horrid pain that I hear becomes excruciating in the end, and see what all the fuss is about I might try an at home birth with zero drugs, but for now I embrace the epidural. All I want out of that experience is to hold my baby. I don’t care much how I get that baby in my arms just yet.

  7. Justyn says:

    I gave birth to my first daughter in a natural birth center at the local hospital. I had no drugs of any kind and we were able to refuse the “standard newborn procedures”. It was a good experience, but what was truly wonderful was my midwife-attended homebirth two weeks ago! Our second daughter was born in our bed with a well-trained midwife ready to transfer us to our doctor’s care at the hospital, if necessary. There were no complications that she couldn’t handle, though. The cord was wrapped twice around the baby’s neck, but that really isn’t the emergency that daytime drama TV would have you think.
    If you are low-risk, I would strongly encourage you to consider a homebirth with a midwife. Our daughter’s birth story will be on my blog soon, so please stop by and read about our experience with homebirth, if you’re interested.

  8. Marie says:

    Does anyone know of a midwife who will travel for my third homebirth in Warren County/Coffe County area? It is about 45 mins east of Murfreesboro.

    Homebirth is definitely the way to go. I thought it was nuts when I first got pregnant and my best friend said to look into it– so I did but I was so skeptical. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and it took all my fear away and made me excited about giving birth! My husband and I looked at the statistics and realized #1 its safer, and #2 we were less likely to be forced to have a dangerous intervention if we had the baby at home. So we had both our children at home with a midwife, and it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

    Also Babywise is a must read if you want your baby to sleep through the night by 2 months– everyone I know who has followed it has had complete success and is so thankful they did! My girls are two and four now and both go down for naps and bedtime without any problem and always have.

  9. Amber W. says:

    “…parts of labor can be intense,” “can”….wHaT an understatement!!! Any woman will tell you, it hurts like… you know what!!!

    I was thinking the same thing!! ;-)

  10. Toshia says:

    I never thought of labor as painful. I definitely thought of it as physical work but not pain. I think the more physical work women are used to doing the easier labor will seem. We only had one car during my second pregnancy so I walked everywhere and carried groceries and such when my husband and was working. We kept a 1/2 acre garden so lots of carrying and wheelbarrow pushing,squatting and weed pulling, planting and digging. We also have a small fruit orchard. The fall time was picking, digging, canning, and preserving.

    By the time my daughter was due in November, I planned a week of me time massage, reflexology,hair and nail appointments.My hubby took time off and we spent some time together just enjoying each other and relaxed.

    When labor started we were relaxed and ready. We filled the birthing pool,called the midwife and told her to let herself in. We took a nap. I had taken hypnobirthing classes so I listened to an exercise on my ipod until I fell asleep. I woke up two hours later in strong labor and got into the birthing tub with my ipod playing a new hypnosis exercise. The warm water and the relaxation exercise helped relax me a lot for the rest of the birth. Waterbith + hypnobirthing I think are a great combo.

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