Natural Birth

What exactly does natural mean to you?

I am reading a varying degree of "naturalness" on this board. 

I personally am okay with close monitoring as you can tell from my multiple u/s pics in my siggy. I had a m/c in November and have had several spotting episodes in this pregnancy and the u/s have been very reassuring. 

I am also using an OB in a hospital.

I am hiring a doula. We will have a well written birth plan that will include no induction, no pain medication, I expect to be able to eat and drink, labor in whatever position I want, leave the placenta attached, breastfeed immediately and keep LO with me at all times. I know more will be added as I go along and learn more.

So, what is your definition?  Based on a poll when this board came out a good percentage of those here plan to deliver in a hospital, but I don't see those people post.  

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Re: What exactly does natural mean to you?

  • According to wiki Natural Childbirth is a philosophy of childbirth that is based on the notion that women who are adequately prepared are innately able to give birth to their child, without external intervention. The term "natural childbirth" was coined by obstetrician Grantly ***-Read upon publication of his book Natural Childbirth.

    But I think this changes from person to person. I think the biggest factor is medication. Once you go down that road it is a slippery slope and most likely you will end up receiving a lot on unnecessary intervention.

  • I want to know what it means to you as an individual. It obviously has many different meanings from home birth to water birth to epidural free. I am not really interested in the Wiki definition.
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  • To me, a natural birth is one free of medicinal intervention - no medical inducing drugs (pitocin, etc.); no narcotics (stadol, etc.); no epidural; no c-section.  I had a hep-lock (wasn't attached to an IV bag, just had the needle in my arm - except it fell out during pushing, so that was pointless lol), had intermittent external monitoring (HATED those stupid belts - every time I moved the nurse came rushing in "your contractions aren't showing on the monitor" - well, obviously, I'm having them, CHILL! lol).  But I had a vaginal delivery with no meds, so I consider that a natural birth :)
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  • For me natural means maintaining a pregnancy and then labor and delivery without any unnecessary medical interventions. I have had two ultrasounds this pregnancy and for me that was enough but if baby was showing any sign of an issue I absolutely would have been ok with others because they were needed. I don't want internals because I think they are not something that will change my progress and I feel they do introduce infection. I think that fetal monitoring in labor that falls under what the American College of Obstetrics says is OK is enough. I want to be able to move around and constant fetal monitoring prevents that. I also think internal fetal monitor are not necessary.

    As far as my choice to birth outside the hospital this was a choice I made simply because I felt for me it was the best way to achieve the birth I desired. My OB prior to my switching to a midwife was not very open to my feelings about childbirth and I felt that it made more sense for to me deliver in an enviroment where everyone involved thought like me. I dont think it is impossible to have a natural unmedicated birth in a hospital but I believe it is harder. I also believe it increases the chances of unnecessary and unwanted medical procedures such as c-sections, epidurals, inductions, episiotomies, and routine pitocin to deliver placenta.

    I believe if you have a great and supportive health provider you can accomplish a natural birth in any environment with any kind of healthcare provider so i dont think a midwife and a birthcenter or home birth equal more natural than others. I just think at times those alternatives may be better for a person in any given situation.

  • skyejoskyejo
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    For me, natural means:

    Laboring and delivering med free in a calm and relaxing environment, being able to labor in different positions including the tub, being able to deliver in whatever position, no episiotomy unless medically needed, delaying cord clamping, immediate skin to skin contact and breastfeeding with baby, keeping the baby with DH and I (no nursery), delayed Vitamin K and eye medication--those are some of the main things that I can think of off-hand.

    I will be birthing in a hospital with a MW and perhaps a doula.  I feel that I can still get the natural birth that I want in a hospital setting and while home births are great, they're just not for me. 

    ETA: I'm not opposed to u/s when medically needed (I had one to date the pregnancy, one for the NT scan, one for the anatomy scan, and one will be at 28w to make sure my low lying placenta moved into the right place).  I am not completely for or against fetal monitoring.  I may use it intermittently.

  • I had IV fluids, an internal monitor and pitocin post-delivery.  Really, that's not natural but it's the best I could do in a hospital.  IMO, natural means that labor and delivery were allowed to progress as they would in nature, no pitocin, no AROM, no augmentation of any kind, no pain meds.

    I fought against the hep lock and the IV fluids and the internal monitor and the pitocin, but if you're in a hospital there are compromises you have to make.

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  • I think the term "natural childbirth" is pretty silly, actually.  I don't think it's so black and white.  I don't care how "natural" something is.  I care that women have choices available to them and that they have access to information to make informed decisions about their care.  I care that women and babies get the best standard of care, based on medical evidence, not fear of litigation or incorrect patriarchal notions about our bodies. 

    I don't think there is ever anything unnatural about bringing a child into the world and I don't like to see women feeling inadequate or like failures because of the way they gave birth.

     

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  • To me, natural means a vaginal delivery without drugs.  No pitocin, no stadol, no epidural.  But that's about it. 

    I believe certain interventions are sometimes necessary, and having them doesn't mean you didn't have a "natural birth."  For example, I had an IV and was eventually catheterized during my labor because 1) I got super-dehydrated from puking a lot, and 2) DD got in the way and I couldn't pee.  Both interventions were necessary.  I still gave birth vaginally and without drugs, so I believe DD's birth was natural.

    That said, I am against interventions when they are unnecessary because I think for the most part, the female body can birth a baby without much help.

  • image pepomntpat:
    I want to know what it means to you as an individual. It obviously has many different meanings from home birth to water birth to epidural free. I am not really interested in the Wiki definition.

    As I originally posted: "the biggest factor is medication. Once you go down that road it is a slippery slope and most likely you will end up receiving a lot on unnecessary intervention."

    Perhaps i was not clear enough. Whether you choose UC, home birth, waterbirth, hopital birth, birth center ... staying away from medication/drugs and having little to no intervention in my book in considered natural.

    Worst case scenario: You choose pitocin, your contraction become so intense and close together that you request an epidural ... and then this increase your chances of having to labor on a stranded beetle position (on your back and legs up), which in turn make you more likely to need an episiotomy and then increase your chances of tearing ... not to mention that all this stress you are undergoing transfers to your LO and doctors suggest doing a c-section because you are being monitored and they feel the baby is in distress.

    I am not in the position to say I will FOR SURE have a natural birth because as of now all I have is a plan/wish/desire to birth at home as naturally as possible but I do not know if a last minute complication may arise and if the scenario mentioned above will turn out to be me. I guess I will have to readdress the issue once I have experienced the actual birthing process at least once.

  • For me, natural = drug free until the baby is born.  And even after the baby is born, I would want to avoid as many drugs as possible since I'll be breastfeeding.

  • image iris427:

    I think the term "natural childbirth" is pretty silly, actually.  I don't think it's so black and white.  I don't care how "natural" something is.  I care that women have choices available to them and that they have access to information to make informed decisions about their care.  I care that women and babies get the best standard of care, based on medical evidence, not fear of litigation or incorrect patriarchal notions about our bodies. 

    I don't think there is ever anything unnatural about bringing a child into the world and I don't like to see women feeling inadequate or like failures because of the way they gave birth.

     

    But women shouldn't feel that way.  "Natural" doesn't mean "better."  We can't change the definition of something so that women don't feel like failures....that is their own issue and they need to deal with that.  Pitocin, epidurals, c-section, all those things by definition is not natural.  I am aiming to have a natural birth - quiet, low lit setting, no medical interventions, I can change positions as freely as I desire, and can deliver anywhere I want.  If something goes wrong and I have to receive interventions, then I will not have had a natural birth but at least I know that I had done all I could in terms of educating myself and setting myself up for success.  I think someone women may feel like failures because they get out of the hospital and THEN start researching and find  out why things went differently than they had imagined.  And giving birth is a HUGE deal so why those women didn't start all that research when they got pregnant?  I dont' know...

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  • I think the most basic definition for me is "without pain meds", but for my own births, natural means "without unnecessary intervention".  My first was delivered in a hospital and the only interventions we had were intermittent fetal monitoring and a heplock was inserted.  This time around, I'm planning a homebirth, perhaps in the water.  I don't think location or attendees (MW vs OB, doula, etc) indicate the natural-ness of a birth - I think it primarily has to do with medication and intervention.
  • I had a "pain-med free" birth and I still refer to it as natural. My husband and I spent 12 + weeks preparing for our little one's birth. We followed our Bradley program to the T. Unfortunately, I had to be induced due to medical reasons (high bp, spilling protein, etc.) We fought every unneccessary medical intervention during the majority of our labor with success. Prior to the last 5 hours of labor, we were med-free, IV free, monitoring was intermittent, etc. ?We tried every possible "natural" induction method from acupuncture to breast pumping, etc. ?I always have a hard time using the term "natural birth" but although things in my plan definitely changed I definitely don't see myself as a natural birth--fail. ?I was still able to deliver my 10 1/2 pound, healthy baby girl vaginally with no pain medication despite the pitocin. I dont think there is anything unnatural about that! Ideally, would I like to do it differently next time--yes! ?I suppose I was a "natural birth--with compromise." ?
  • I think the spectrum is wide, but if you push me I will say it is a med-free birth - no pit, no epi, etc.

    I was induced, and the moment that I knew I had to be, I felt I no longer had a natural (tho not the word I used) birth.  I had what was medically needed, but not what I wanted. 

  • for me it's no pain meds.  i realize that sometimes labors need to be augmented with something like pitocin, and while i'd prefer not to be given any medications whatsoever, i'd still consider a pain med-free induction a natural birth.  i can understand that people would not consider that natural as there are still foreign chemicals introduced into the body but that would make the "natural birth" group a lot smaller and i think in our culture it should be as inclusive as possible until it becomes more mainstream.

    i am delivering in a hospital with an OB.  we don't have a birth center in my metro area yet so it's either home or hospital for right now.

     


  • I think a natural birth involves going into labor on your own and giving birth without any meds or assistance (like foreceps). 

    I hang out on this board because I prepared for natural childbirth in a hospital but I don't consider my experience truly natural even though I had no pain meds because a.) I was induced (amniotomy) and b.) I was given Pitocin for augmentation.

    ETA: And just because my birth experience was not natural does not mean I feel like a failure in the slightest!  I am extremely proud of myself and I embrace my experience with nothing but fond memories.  It was incredible.

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  • I absolutely agree and believe it means med-free. 

    I happen to be using an OB in a hospital, but have already reviewed my birth plan with him.  In addition to med-free, I am hypnobabying it, will not have an IV (they require at least the saline block/plug in case of an emergency), have agreed to the minimal requirement for intermittent fetal monitoring, have the option to birth in alternative positions, will delay the newborn procedures for the first hour (bathing, measuring, etc.) so I can breastfeed immediately, and will keep LO with myself or my DH at all times. 

  • Greetings women,

    First time here on this section of the Bump.  Glad to see this discussion and happy to be joining in.  To me natural birth equals me being at home the whole time-maybe in a tub, maybe near our bonfire which will be continuously stoked. mabye just taking walks or trying to watch a movie.  The only thing not natural will be that our dog will be away from home during the labor and birth.  We thought it might be too weird for him to see me in labor.  It might freak him out!  I like the idea of dim lighting, calming, groovy music, good food being made for later by my sweet wife (before I go into labor I hope), the midwife, student and doula quietly arriving.  I envision kind of a ritual, a right of passage.  No medical interventions, just my own strength and the strength of the women who will be supporting me.  I'm ready for this sacred experience. 

    That said, I'm lucky we're 5 minutes from a world renouned hospital should any emergency happen where the baby is in danger.  The hospital is a last resort.

  • I consider my baby's birth to be natural, even though it didn't go exactly as I planned. 

    I began my pre-natal care with an OB for the first 8 weeks or so and then switched to a midwifery practice.  I had minimal ultrasounds.

    We were planning a drug-free, low-intervention water birth at a birthing center with our midwife using hypnobirthing.

    I went into labor at 36.5 weeks, too early for the midwives to be comfortable with me delivering at the birth center, so we went to a hospital instead.  I was 9 cm when I arrived at the hospital.  Only nurses cared for me until my midwife arrived.  My baby was in a bit of distress, so I had an external monitor on my belly.  But that didn't interfere with anything, at that point I had no desire to move around.  I did successfully use hypnobirthing to manage my labor.  I didn't receive any drugs and vaginally delivered my son after pushing for about 30 minutes.  My husband caught the baby and put the cord.  My cord broke shortly after delivering my son and the placenta was adhered, so the midwife had to manually remove my placenta.  That hurt so much, and again, no drugs....

    So I consider natural childbirth to be a baby delivered vaginally with no drugs.

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  • image Kestrel84:
    image iris427:

    I think the term "natural childbirth" is pretty silly, actually.  I don't think it's so black and white.  I don't care how "natural" something is.  I care that women have choices available to them and that they have access to information to make informed decisions about their care.  I care that women and babies get the best standard of care, based on medical evidence, not fear of litigation or incorrect patriarchal notions about our bodies. 

    I don't think there is ever anything unnatural about bringing a child into the world and I don't like to see women feeling inadequate or like failures because of the way they gave birth.

     

    But women shouldn't feel that way.  "Natural" doesn't mean "better."  We can't change the definition of something so that women don't feel like failures....that is their own issue and they need to deal with that.  Pitocin, epidurals, c-section, all those things by definition is not natural.  I am aiming to have a natural birth - quiet, low lit setting, no medical interventions, I can change positions as freely as I desire, and can deliver anywhere I want.  If something goes wrong and I have to receive interventions, then I will not have had a natural birth but at least I know that I had done all I could in terms of educating myself and setting myself up for success.  I think someone women may feel like failures because they get out of the hospital and THEN start researching and find  out why things went differently than they had imagined.  And giving birth is a HUGE deal so why those women didn't start all that research when they got pregnant?  I dont' know...

    I'm not talking about changing the definition of anything or banning the term "natural childbirth".  But look at the posts we've had on here asking "is X natural or not?"  I mean, does it really matter if water birth is "natural" or if having Pit but no epidural is "natural" etc. etc.?  What matters is how a woman feels about those options and whether they are safe or not.  In this very thread we have a lot of woman saying what natural means to them, so there obviously is not one definition.  And many of them are saying that they are happy with their birth experiences and I think that is the most important thing. 

    I think focusing on whether something is "natural" or not is missing the point.  The point is what offers the best, safest care for women and babies with the healthiest outcomes?  What offers women the best experience and allows them to take charge as equal partners in their own birth?  In most cases, yes, that means natural childbirth.  But to me, it's not the "natural" part that matters.

    As for your part about how women "should" feel or about how they "should" be researching head of time--there is no right or wrong way to feel about your own life experiences, and I can't fault women for trusting their doctors either.  And there is nothing wrong with doing more research after the fact.  I worked as a doula and did a ton of research before I had my daughter, but you can't possibly account for everything that might happen.  It's also very hard to remember your research in the throes of labor.  So yeah, I had a c/s and since then I've learned more about how I could have prevented my c/s. 

    And I stand by my statement that while an induction or epi or cesarean may not be what our ancestors did, there is nothing unnatural about bringing a child into the world.  A mother choosing to sacrifice her body and get cut open to give her child the best chance is making a very natural choice, even if the cesarean itself is not natural. 

    So I guess to me, the best kind of birth is when the mother is empowered to make decisions for herself and her child.  The labels don't matter.

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  • I don't like the term "natural childbirth" because to me it implies that other forms of giving birth are "unnatural." I like to say "drug-free" because that for me is the main focus of the experience that is different from what most people have. I would like to have a birth that is not induced by drugs and I also don't want to receive any pain medication while I am in labor with my LO. Those are the two biggest things for me.

    I think anyone who can give birth without pain meds is a rockstar.  

  • To me natural childbirth means an un-medicated vaginal delivery.  This is what we are planning on doing, assuming everything proceeds normally, and I can manage through everything.  We have wonderful advances in medicine for childbirth, and I'm very glad we have them available.  But through my research I've come to be more and more convinced that assuming everything is proceeding "normally", un-medicated natural is better for both Mom and baby.  

    I do think women who are interested in natural childbirth put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve it.  I think one should go into labor thinking that you will use what is medically available as it becomes necessary.  I wouldn't take advil for a headache that doesn't really hurt that much, I'm not going to a vicodin when two tylenol will suffice and I'm not going to immediately have an epidural based on the assumption that labor will be painful.  If it gets to the point where I can't deal with the pain anymore, I've exhausted my other options, and I feel that I'm not going to have the strength to push, I'll consider the epidural.  And I won't give it a second thought, or feel like I've somehow failed.  

    I also hate the argument that women have been giving birth "naturally" for thousands of years.  First off it's not true, women have been using every tool available to them to make labor easier.  Sometimes it was meditation, different birthing positions, sometimes it was various herbal remedies, potions and concoctions.  Second of all, there has also been a fairly high maternal and fetal mortality rate up until recently.  Un-medicated is only better for mother and baby up to a point.  Our Bradley instructor was someone who basically taught the class that all doctors were out to give c-sections, and if you had so much as a tums for heartburn during your pregnancy, you we're dooming your child to come out with 3 heads.  I really do believe that most doctors are out there to help their patients to the best of their ability.

    All that being said, I think you have a better chance of delivering in a natural fashion in a birth center rather than a hospital.  Natural births in hospitals have become a rare event, and as such most interns and residents aren't really trained in letting things progress naturally.  There are also a lot of hospital policies that will make it more difficult.  It certainly doesn't mean it's impossible, just that you will have to work a little harder to birth in the fashion that you desire.

    Our plan is for a hospital birth with a mid-wife.  We plan to labor at home for as long as possible, to ensure that I am able to eat and drink to help maintain energy during labor, and help lessen the amount of intervention we receive.   I think if you're in a hospital for delivery, this is where a doula can be very helpful.  The more support you can have the better.

    I'm also going to get on another soap-box and say that this whole movement towards "I want my birth to be a private affair with just my husband" does not gel all that well with advocating for more women have a natural un-medicated birth.  Births used to be a huge event within a community, with women, children and their mothers (I'll be honest, in most places men were generally not included).  This meant that all the women in the community knew and saw what to expect, and that it wasn't something to fear.  The more private we make this, the more mystery will surround it, and the more fear we expose ourselves to.    I'm not advocating that we start selling tickets, but I do think our desire for privacy, competes with our value of birthing "naturally".

  • image pepomntpat:

    I am reading a varying degree of "naturalness" on this board. 

    I personally am okay with close monitoring as you can tell from my multiple u/s pics in my siggy. I had a m/c in November and have had several spotting episodes in this pregnancy and the u/s have been very reassuring. 

    I am also using an OB in a hospital.

    I am hiring a doula. We will have a well written birth plan that will include no induction, no pain medication, I expect to be able to eat and drink, labor in whatever position I want, leave the placenta attached, breastfeed immediately and keep LO with me at all times. I know more will be added as I go along and learn more.

    So, what is your definition?  Based on a poll when this board came out a good percentage of those here plan to deliver in a hospital, but I don't see those people post.  

    I tried to do a intervention/med free birth in a hospital with my first child.  It didn't turn out AT ALL like our birth plan, or our hopes (actually the only thing that did happen on our birth plan was breastfeeding).  Had we actually had no meds/interventions in the hospital I would have considered it natural.  I just think it's A LOT harder to achieve that in a hospital setting regardless of how many people have read/signed off on your birth plan, etc. etc.  So we are doing a homebirth this time, which to me seems more natural just because you are in a normal setting, but I would still consider a drug free hospital birth natural. 

  • giaM28giaM28 member

    my natural birth will be completely drug free & medical intervention free unless necessary, vaginal delivery but in a hospital with my OB and the in office MW.

    im using hypnobirth, massage and a birthing ball to deal with the pain.

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  • The most important thing for me was to skip the epi though I hoped and was prepared to fight all other interventions. My MW wanted to induce with a foley bulb then pit if I got close to 42 weeks and I guess I would have still considered it a natural birth if I'd made it through the induction without an epi or pain meds.

     I ended up arriving at the hospital ready to push and they were putting in the hospital policy hep-lock as I was pushing so other than it taking place at a hospital I think it was about as natural as it could have been.

  • I understand why you are asking this question, because i find that when I tell people that I am going for a natural birth they all have different ideas of what that means.

    To me, natural birth means just that - that the birth itself proceeds as nature intended: on your body's initiation and pace and in whatever position you need to be. The goal is vaginal delivery with no medications or interventions. But if natural or medical procedures are used to augment nature, it may not have been ideal but its still natural if a baby come out of your vajajay with no pain meds.

    I don't think location is key, nor do i think a lack of modern testing and monitoring are required, nor do I think that you have to exclusively BF until age 3 or refuse all immunizations or use cloth diapers. I think some of those details are more influenced by finances and your degree of crunchiness, as in how granola your lifestyle is. 

  • To me, natural childbirth means that you deliver your baby without pain medication.  Even with pitocin, it is possible to deliver without an epi, stadol, etc.
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  • natural birth to me means birth not augmented by artificial means. so obviously a surgical birth would not be a natural birth, nor would a birth assisted with pitocin, narcotics or anesthesia.

    a birth assisted with a vacuum or forceps, while not ideal, would still be a natural birth (to me), as would waterbirth.

    i don't like the idea of artificially rupturing membranes, but i think i would still consider it a natural birth.

     

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