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Natural Childbirth

A natural birth (also known as an unmedicated birth) is just that - it is the delivery of a baby without using drugs or surgery during birth. A common phrase heard when talking with people about natural birthing practices is, "birth is a natural process, not a medical procedure." In today's society this is definitely a radical concept for most doctors, but it is true nonetheless. You really can have a beautiful, drug-free experience in childbirth even if you have your baby in a hospital. You simply need to know it is possible, you need to find a doctor (or midwife) who will support you in your point of view, and you need some training to help you prepare yourself so you can let nature take its course.

The advantages of a natural childbirth are huge. You learn about all of the advantages when you take a natural childbirth class such as those offered under the Bradley method. Here are the three big advantages:

  1. Natural childbirth is much better for the mother. The mother has a completely different experience during birth if she is not drugged - a significantly more fulfilling and beautiful experience. She also feels much more in control of her body and the health of her baby.
  2. Natural childbirth is much better for the baby. The baby arrives in an undrugged and therefore much more active and alert state. It is amazing to see videotapes showing the differences between drugged and undrugged babies immediately after birth. Undrugged babies are active and responsive. Drugged babies can barely move.
  3. Natural childbirth is much better for the family. When an alert and active (undrugged) baby is placed on the abdomen of an alert and undrugged mother, an amazing thing happens: the baby and mother bond in a significant and real way. The baby will naturally find the breast and begin feeding. The baby will make significant eye contact with the mother and father and respond to them. This simply does not happen when mother and child are drugged, and as a result breastfeeding starts off on a much rockier road.
Make no mistake about it - you cannot have a natural childbirth in today's society unless you take active steps to make it happen. You and your spouse must decide in your own minds that you want a natural birth. You must find a doctor or midwife who supports that decision. You and your spouse must train for the birth so you know what to expect, how to manage pain and what to do at different stages of the birth. You also need to prepare a birth plan so that you can state your desires about a host of variables including: drugs, fetal monitoring, episiotomies, IVs, birth positions, etc. The first time you look into birth plans, the number of options is bewildering. It is amazing how all of these options actually make sense once you have done the research into the type of birth you want.

There are a number of different ways for you to have a natural birth. Here are the five most common:

  • With an "enlightened" doctor at a hospital
  • With a midwife at a hospital
  • With a midwife at a birthing center
  • With a midwife at home
  • Unassisted at home
You can look at these options, weigh the risks and benefits, and choose the style that works best for you.

If you are considering a natural childbirth, you should definitely start reading up on the subject, and you should consider taking a Bradley class or similar natural childbirth class. See the books page for good book options. The links below will help you do research in selected topics.

Birth Plans

Writing a birth plan is extremely helpful in that it helps you decide how you want your birth to proceed as well as being a communication tool between you and your doctor. It is very reassuring to know what to expect from your birth and your health provider before going into labor. Have your doctor initial your birth plan and take it with you to show the hospital nurses.

Natural Childbirth Topics

Birth Assistants (Doulas)

I used a doula for my birth. She happened to be my Bradley childbirth instructor. It was very reassuring to know that she would be there especially since my husband travels a bit and there was the chance he would not be there. I was also afraid I might forget everything I learned in my class (which I did!). One advantage of having a doula instead of a family member or close friend is that the doula brings with her lots of experience and you don't have to worry about how you are acting. I know other women who have had their family members present and were so caught up in entertaining them and talking to them that they wore themselves out and did not have energy left for the actual birth. Some ended up having C-sections because they were too tired to push the baby out. With a doula you are not distracted and can concentrate on the labor and birth fully. Also since doulas are paid, I felt comfortable asking her for assistance during the birth because it was her "job", when I may not have felt comfortable asking a family member for help.
Although my midwife and the hospital labor nurse were present for the birth and extrememly helpful, it is not the same as having a doula. My doula was always on my side and I could count on her to support me in my decisions. I don't think I could have had an unmedicated birth without her. There is just something about having an experienced woman there solely to help you that is extremely comforting.
Another reason we chose to have a doula is that there was a chance that our midwife would not be present for the birth and we would instead have one of the doctors (even one I had never met) in the practice. Since most of the doctors did not embrace natural childbirth, having a doula reassured us that if we had a doctor, we could still get the birth we wanted.
  • The Professional Birth Assistant
      While birth assistants can be used in any type of birth, they are particularly helpful in natural childbirth. This page gives you information such as what one is, what do they do, and how to locate one.
  • Do I need a Doula?
      Answers questions such as what is a doula, how much does one cost, and what one can do for you.


Midwives are used in low-risk pregnancies. Midwifes generally offer more personal care than a doctor. They see pregnancy/childbirth as a natural event as opposed as a medical state and procedure. They are less rigid and are more open to your wishes. I personally don't know why anyone would choose a doctor over a midwife unless it was medically necessary.
  • Midwifery Page
      This page is mostly for people interested in becoming a midwife, but if you are considering using one or want more information on what type of training they have, this page would be useful. Has some interesting articles too.
  • Finding a Nurse-Midwife
      This page by the American College of Nurse-Midwives suggests how to find a midwife and lets you search on-line for one in your area.
  • The Instinct of Birth
      An great article written by a midwife on her experiences.

Great Books!

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon

    This is a wonderful book! I highly recommend it! It goes into a lot of detail on the different stages of labor, relaxation methods, and the Bradley methodology. Also if you have any fears of childbirth, this is a must because it shows you how natural and beautiful childbirth can be!

Husband-Coached Childbirth : The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Robert A., Md Bradley, Marjie Hathaway

    This is also a good book. While it won't prepare you for labor like "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way" does, this book discusses the development and reasoning behind the Bradley method. My husband even read this book and it really turned him on to natural childbirth. Again, if you have any fears of childbirth, this is a great book!

Easing Labor Pain : The Complete Guide to a More Comfortable and Rewarding Birth by Adrienne B. Lieberman

    This book does not advocate any specific childbirth method but rather goes into detail on all the options of pain relief during childbirth (both medicated and natural). Good book!

Gentle Birth Choices : A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Birthing Centers, Birth Attendants, Water Birth, Home Birth, Hospital Birth by Barbara Harper

    I have not read this book but have heard good things about it from others who have.

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