Why Natural Birth is Better

People who think for themselves have always been a little threatening, and any challenge to the status-quo is very threatening. Let me invite you to look past the “fanatic” and “martyr” label commonly given to natural birth and see why it’s both bold and best.

Natural birth is commonly framed as a “choice” today – it’s all about individual rights and choices. And it’s not politically correct – in fact, it’s practically taboo – to make strong statements about somebody else’s “choice.”

But natural birth, epidurals, narcotic medications, medically managed labor and delivery, and cesarean sections are not just equal “choices” for a woman to make. They each have a profound impact on the birth, on the baby, and on you as a mother.

As always, I want to be sensitive in this discussion – there are times and reasons for babies to come via cesarean surgery. There are times when medical management may be life-saving. But we all know they don’t need to be happening at epidemic numbers…

I also feel we can all agree that how you give birth does not make you more or less of a mother. But ** birth can profoundly impact your journey into motherhood and to gloss over that is neither helpful nor ethically correct.**

A New Paradigm for Measuring How We Change Birth

Let’s go back to interventions for a minute.

What if interventions really do save lives? What does that actually mean?

Does that mean that we should use those interventions on absolutely everybody? Could an intervention that saves the life of one mother and baby threaten another mother and baby?

Is it possible that there is such at thing as “too much of a good thing?”

I challenge you to consider that the answer is “yes.”

That’s one of the places where the whole “debate” is wrong. We all realize that truthfully, interventions are needed. There has never been any debate that, sometimes, medical interventions save lives. Sometimes they’re a good thing.

But we can all see that using medical miracles with abandon has resulted in consequences that were not intended.

Think about antibiotics. I’m grateful for them. I’m sure you are too. You probably know somebody whose life was saved by antibiotics. And you also know that problems have come from widespread antibiotic usage. There are resistant bacteria. Efficacy rates drop, and when that life-saving intervention is needed, it’s not effective. The human microbiome is harmed by overuse of antibiotics, leaving a person much more vulnerable than they were before.

Sometimes it’s worth the trade-off.

Sometimes it’s not.

Interventions do save lives. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they actually hurt mothers and babies.

We’re going back to the drawing board with antibiotics – not completely getting rid of them, but researchers are striving to understand the microbiome (“good bacteria”) and how it is impacted by antibiotics. They’re working to understand exactly how our immune system was designed to work. They strive to answer the question, “How can we work together with that process?

We need to go back to that drawing board on birth. And we need to do it with humility. We do not completely understand how birth works.

Birth is not mechanical, and women’s bodies are not machines to crank open and spit out a baby.

There is much more to the process.

We only recently overcame major issues to safety in birth: malnutrition, hygiene, sanitation. In some places around the world, we still battle with those issues.

In the modern world, we could argue, we have overcome those issues (I would argue that we are inflicting malnutrition on many mamas and babies by poor nutrition “advice,” but that is a topic for another article).

Here’s the problem: we never stopped to study birth once we solved those issues. We kept (and keep) treating birth like it’s an incredibly dangerous game of roulette, and we treat every mother like she’s a ticking time bomb whose end is death unless we swoop in and save her (and her baby).

Ultimately this undermines the safety of birth, which was meant to work and result in a safe, healthy, and happy mother and baby.

(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the birth plan kit here.)

Handle Labor Pain

How Birth is Impacted by Drugs and Interventions

Childbirth is a beautifully simple and profoundly complex process. I do not fully understand it – and I am not alone. Nobody fully understands how birth works.

Again, for a very long time, we’ve thought about birth in purely mechanical terms: first stage, second stage, dilation, centimeters, station, etc.

It’s only recently that we’ve come to understand there are far more levels to birth – an incredible symphony of hormones that guide the birth process, provide natural pain relief, control bleeding, and skyrocket mama and baby into a natural state of love and bonding.

We’re only starting to understand that. We do not understand completely how labor starts (though we do have crude methods of trying to force it into beginning on our timetables). We not fully understand what role the baby and his or her physiology play in the birthing process.

There is so much we do not know.

When we introduce interventions and drugs, we bring in the effects we know about – and we accept all the effects we don’t know about.

Essentially, as we’ve discovered with antibiotics, the reality is this:

There is a lot of collateral damage coming along with those interventions.

Interventions begin to impact the hormonal process of birth immediately. I’ve been teaching childbirth classes for many years, and I have been an avid researcher since before I founded this site (over a decade ago).

I believe that the impact of interventions begins far before the intervention ever happens. It starts as soon as a pregnant woman begins to worry over and fear the interventions.

If hormone levels change and adjust dramatically during pregnancy (and they do), do we impact those levels when women start to worry about interventions while still pregnant?

So many mamas have brought so many questions to my classes over the years – and most can be summed up this way “how can I get them to let me birth in peace?”

Women are afraid of being messed with during birth. And that has a profound impact on them, and their babies.

All of this happens before birth – and when those first, niggling sensations of labor begin, we face interventions that will profoundly shape birth.

Here’s an analogy you’ve probably heard before:

Imagine you’re in a dark, comfortable bedroom with your beloved. The two of you are totally into a passionate lovemaking session. Suddenly somebody turns on the light, starts monitoring your heart rate, asks to check your blood pressure, and tells you they’ll just give you “a little something to help you perform.”

How will that impact your performance? The interruption radically alters the hormonal profile and just turns everything off.

This is a great analogy because those same hormones control the birthing process (just at many times the levels of lovemaking!).

Here’s an amusing video that illustrates this analogy (you may want to watch this without little ones in the room, because though tastefully done, you might get some “Mama, what are they doing?” questions!)

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’1′ hide_logo=’1′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’1′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZG0T7xHy6A[/responsive_video]

Even stepping out the door of your house and heading to the hospital or birth center can change things – especially if you’re already really nervous about it.

What happens when you introduce other interventions, such as synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin, Sytocinon, etc.)? You totally undermine the natural system – in fact, you completely take it offline.

Imagine unhooking your home from the grid and sticking candles around the room. They get the job done to light up the house… but what about the fridge? What about cooking? What happens when your phone’s battery dies? You end up missing a whole lot.

Synthetic oxytocin “brings on” contractions or “speeds things up” (in theory), but it takes an entire system controlled by oxytocin offline, including natural pain relief and bonding and attachment systems.

The fake stuff just doesn’t work like the real deal. Read my article Will the Real Oxytocin Please Stand Up for in-depth information.

Other interventions that we think of as helpful, or at least harmless, actually cause problems. Fetal monitoring and withholding food and drink in labor in favor of the illusionary “safety” of IV lines are some examples.

Restricting birthing mothers to the bed completely changes the course of labor, which we’ll discuss further when we talk about your baby.

Women who choose natural birth are commonly portrayed as having a martyr complex – and to be fair, I can see some of that when the entire focus is on natural pain relief (I teach that mamas should focus instead on working with their baby and practical steps to do that). The epidural is positioned as a harmless option that anyone not fanatical would and should take.

The problem is that the epidural does actually impact labor. It forces mothers into bed (the so-called “walking epidural” does too). It requires levels of intervention that dramatically change birth – IV lines, continuous fetal monitoring, etc.

In deadening the “bad” intensity of labor, it also blunts the highs of the rush of bonding hormones mothers typically experience as their baby is born.

The entire process of birthing is fundamentally changed.

Birth is not made safer. It’s just broken.

Other interventions are brought in to “fix” the problems, and ultimately, mothers are told to lay down, shut up, and be grateful that they were “saved” from the very problems the interventions caused.

There are even entire websites online devoted to smear campaigns again natural birth, trying to portray women who believe in the natural design of birth and consciously preparing themselves for birthing, as ridiculous fanatics who care nothing for their babies.

Wanting to have a healthy, natural birth that respects the design of natural is in no way selfish or fanatical. It shows intelligence and a desire to put your baby’s well-being first and foremost.

And by doing that, you actually create a better, safer experience for yourself, too.

How Your Baby is Impacted by Drugs and Interventions

Did you ever spit watermelon seeds when you were a kid? Or skip stones across a lake?

We tend to think of birth in a similar way. The baby is about to go for a nice ride – forceful ejection just like a watermelon seed… or holding on for dear life while they get skipped (or rocketed) down the birth canal.

That’s not what happens. Your baby is very active during the birthing process.

Care providers actually understand this – even obstetricians study the “mechanisms of labor” or “cardinal movements of labor” which diagram out, step-by-step, how a baby moves through the cervix and birth canal during labor. Of course, your baby may not exactly follow these mechanical steps, but there is a pattern and your baby is active.

That’s why I teach my students that they’re working with their babies during labor and birth. Your baby is actively moving.

When you get up and move – walk, rock, sway, spiral your hips, etc. – you are following patterns and sequences that your body knows help your baby.

When you’re stuck in bed due to interventions, your baby has to make his or her way down the birth canal without much help at all.

Interventions like Pitocin also create unnaturally strong, long contractions during labor. That creates stress for the baby, which can lead to “non-reassuring heart tones,” “fetal distress,” and eventually emergency measures like cesarean section.

Epidural medication and other labor medication does transfer to the baby, not matter what you’re told. Babies who received drugs are not as alert after birth. They tend to have a harder time breastfeeding. These realities do not mean that always happens, but many, many mamas have also noticed a different with themselves and their babies when they compare births with an epidural and births without.

How You Are Impacted by Drugs and Interventions

I have already touched heavily on how birth is completely redefined when interventions and drugs are introduced, including how the hormonal profile of birth is radically and fundamentally altered.

This has a huge impact on you as a birthing woman because it’s almost impossible to use the naturally supplied methods of working with your labor and birth when your hormonal profile has been medically altered.

Hormones like oxytocin, beta-endorphin, and even adrenaline (while you’re pushing your baby out) all come into play to help you work with your baby and get to that “labor-land” place that many birthing women talk about.

I cannot promise you that it will be easy. It is very likely that birthing your baby will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. But I believe in you. You are strong, and you can do this.

Sometimes birthing naturally is overwhelming. If you watch videos of women birthing without drugs or interventions, you’ll often see them take a “pause” – a few breaths just after they birth their baby (and I believe sometimes before, as the head has crowned and been born and they wait on the body). Then the mother turns her attention to her precious newborn. It’s okay to take this moment if you need it.

Once your baby is born, oxytocin and other hormones levels skyrocket (I’m pretty fond of telling my students that levels get so high there’s a feel-good “contact high” for everyone in the room!). These hormone levels help you bond with your baby – and they also create safety for you. They trigger the uterus to contract down quickly and firmly, protecting you. They keep you and your baby cuddled close together so that you keep baby safe with regulated temperature, respiration, and glucose levels (your body does all of that!)…

…and your baby’s nuzzling, licking, moving, and eventual nursing continues to tell your body to produce more bonding and safety hormones.

It’s a well-designed system that really works.

Why Natural Birth is Best

I challenge you to again consider this:

Birth is designed to work

Surely the intention of childbirth, regardless of how you feel it was designed (by random chance, nature, or a loving Creator)…

…surely the intention is to have healthy, bonded, and happy mothers and babies. That’s what keeps humanity here.

I also challenge you to consider this:

Our understanding of hormones has exploded in only the past few years…

…how much more do we not understand yet?

Think about the implications of that. We are messing with something we do not understand, literally playing with fire, asking for collateral damage…

Sometimes mamas really do need interventions, but using them to save the mothers and babies who really need them does not make a case for using them on everybody.

Setting up birth as “choice” rather than honoring it as a process designed to work, to work well, and to create a happy mamababy pair is what creates the ridiculous levels of guilt and hostility our society has for women who “choose” natural birth (I talk much more about this in: The Mommy Wars Lied to You).

Natural birth honors your inherent strength.

Natural birth honors the inherent intelligence of your baby.

Natural birth honors that reality that the mamababy is a unit… that mama and baby are meant to be together (not the enemies that modern obstetrics portrays them to be).

Natural birth honors the simplicity of the needs of a birthing woman, and the complexity that respecting that simplicity brings.

Natural birth as the norm frees us to respect and honor the mother who must sacrifice a natural birth for her health or the health of her baby.

Natural birth is the foundation on which we build strong mothers.

Fundamentally, I believe that is the reason we see so much backlash again natural birth. Powerful mothers and strong families are a threat to so very many. People who think for themselves have always been a threat.

I urge you to step out. Be bold. Be strong. Think for yourself. Birth your baby.

(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the birth plan kit here.)

Handle Labor Pain

Why Natural Birth Best

About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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