A natural, unmedicated approach to labor and birth will suit you best if you want to remain in control of your body as much as possible, be an active participant throughout labor, and have minimal routine interventions such as continuous electronic monitoring.
If you choose to go this route, you accept the potential for pain and discomfort as part of giving birth. But with the right preparation and support, women often feel empowered and deeply satisfied by natural childbirth.
Here are the pros:
- Most natural childbirth techniques are not invasive, so there’s little potential for harm or side effects for you or your baby.
- Many women have a strong feeling of empowerment during labor and a sense of accomplishment afterward. Despite having to endure pain, many report that they’ll choose an unmedicated birth again the next time. For some women, being in charge helps lessen their perception of pain.
- There’s no loss of sensation or alertness. You can move around more freely and find positions that help you stay comfortable during labor. And you’ll remain able to participate in the delivery process when it’s time to push your baby out.
- You’re less likely than women who get epidurals to need interventions such as oxytocin (Pitocin) to make your contractions stronger, bladder catheterization, or a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery
- Your partner can be involved in the process as you work together to manage your pain.
- You can use the breathing exercises, visualization, and self-hypnosis you learn both during labor and later on. Many new mothers find themselves drawing on their relaxation techniques in the early days of breastfeeding, while coping with postpartum discomfort, or during those times when caring for a newborn feels especially stressful.
Unlike an epidural, natural pain-reduction techniques don’t eliminate pain. So if you’re not interested in feeling and working with the pain, you’ll be happier with an epidural. Also, natural approaches may not offer adequate pain management, particularly if you end up with a prolonged labor or a complicated labor that requires a lot of interventions.