When people talk about “a natural birth,” they are most often referring to a vaginal delivery void of any drugs or medical assistance, such as an epidural. And while it’s certainly an attainable goal, it requires the right kind of support.
If you’re considering a natural birth, it’s a good idea to interview with, and possibly enlist, the services of a doula and/or midwife who follows a less interventionist model of care. The knowledge and experience they bring to the table, as well as their calming encouragement, can give you a greater chance of avoiding possibly unnecessary medications.
For women who have already decided on a natural birth, consider taking a childbirth education class to learn the many natural ways women can cope with pain in labor, including positioning, massage, good labor support, hydrotherapy and vocalization. Talk to your care provider and labor partner about your goals and concerns.
It can also help to learn as much as you can about the normal physiological process of birth so that you feel familiar with how long it can take and how the body works.
Writing a birth plan can be a good way to work through the kinds of choices you do have in labor – where you will be, who will be with you – but it’s also important to remain as open as possible. Locking into a very set idea about an “ideal” birth can set a woman up for disappointment, whether that ideal involves medications or not.