Following is a guest post by Mama Natural whose videos I thoroughly enjoy for their authenticity and humor! Mama Natural has been a generous supporter of Nourishing Our Children and The Adventures of Andrew Price children’s book. I am sincerely delighted to share Genevieve’s perspective and experience with our community members:
From Mama Natural
If Dr. Weston A. Price were alive today, I think he would be saddened at the state of birth. It has gone from a normal, biological process to a medical event that needs to be heavily managed by a doctor. Similar to how our food has been stripped of its nutrients and processed to be more profitable, birth has been stripped of its valuable place in a mother’s life and monetized by a western medical model.
Don’t get me wrong … medical interventions during birth can and do save lives. Thank God we have emergency cesereans and amazing medical care post-birth. I myself was born via c-section.
But, just like with the boom of industrialized food, we have taken things too far. Instead of using medical interventions sparingly, they have become the rule rather than exception.
Over 80% of moms will have some kind of intervention. Our current c-section rate is at 33% while the World Health Organization recommends a rate of 10-15% (and this number includes high risk births like triplets!) Through the years, we’ve embraced a new paradigm that says that birth is scary, painful, and dangerous and women are weak, incapable, and out of touch with their bodies.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Birth is an extremely ordinary and yet miraculous experience that can serve as one of the most defining journeys of a mother’s life. I want more moms to know this and have this experience if they chose.
Just like consuming a nutrient-dense diet is so nourishing for women (and their offspring, if they chose that path), natural childbirth is amazing for both mothers and babies.
Here are just 8 of those benefits of natural childbirth, some of which may surprise you!
1. Freedom during labor
All the wires and tubes that come along with IV’s, epidurals, and fetal heart rate monitoring can make it really tough to move around and find the most comfortable or effective position to labor in. Even a walking epidural can make full mobility difficult or impossible. Most women birth their babies on their back, a position that actually compresses their pelvic opening usually resulting in a more challenging birth.
Meanwhile, a natural birth lets you remain free. You can embrace the sensation of birth and work with it to find the best position to labor in. This may sound strange, but the pain of birth is your best guide to whether sitting, standing, walking, squatting or all fours will help baby descend and be born most efficiently.
2. Avoid unnecessary interventions (and, as a result, cesarean)
Planning a natural childbirth with your midwife at your side reduces your risk of c-section from about 30% to 5%! This is largely due to the fact that midwives show judicious use of interventions, whereas hospitals may not.
Many routine practices in hospitals are not evidence-based, including continuous fetal heart rate monitoring and induction before 42 weeks during an otherwise normal pregnancy. When women are subjected to these unnecessary interventions, the likelihood that they will receive even more interventions (e.g. Pitocin and epidurals) increases significantly. This is called the “cascade of interventions.”
There have been many studies on whether epidurals cause a higher rate of c-section. Most have concluded that they don’t. However, all of these studies are comparing epidural anesthesia to narcotic anesthesia instead of going natural, so we don’t know what the difference would be compared to natural birth.
However, studies have shown that use of epidurals increases the need for Pitocin augmentation. Pitocin can cause what some moms call “super contractions,” where the contractions are extra intense and frequent. These artificial contractions can cause fetal distress, a very real reason for an urgent cesarean delivery.
3. Safer for baby
Epidurals have a number of side effects for mom and baby. They can cause sudden drop in mom’s blood pressure, which can cause fetal distress (not enough oxygen reaching baby). This often leads to emergency c-section.
Also, epidurals have been shown to cause maternal fever in labor. In one study, about 20% of women who had an epidural developed maternal fever (compared to 2.4% of women who had no epidural). Babies born to moms who have a fever, particularly 101 degrees or higher, have a higher chance of low muscle tone, need for resuscitation, brain damage, seizures, and low APGAR scores.
4. Shorter, easier labor
Along with good nutrition, exercise and a quality birth class, forgoing the epidural can make for a shorter and easier labor. In natural childbirth, your body produces oxytocin to stimulate contractions. The increased pain of contractions stimulates your body to release endorphins (nature’s best pain management!) and more oxytocin to continue labor progressing.
When epidurals are used, the pain feedback loop is interrupted and your body may not release the oxytocin it needs to signal contractions. Pitocin may be needed to get labor going again. This is not ideal because, as we know, Pitocin can cause fetal distress.
Another reason that labor is shorter in natural birth is that, when you’re going natural, you’re more in touch with your body, and better able to recognize when a different position will help bring your sweet baby into the world!
5. Empowering experience
Learning to dig deep inside yourself to get through the hard work of labor and begin your journey as a new mom is incredibly empowering! Many moms agree that birth is transformative, other worldly and something that marks them forever.
When a mom is supported throughout her pregnancy and birth, she will feel more empowered to give birth naturally. Hiring a doula and attending a childbirth class are great ways to make sure you feel confident and empowered to give birth naturally.
6. Better breastfeeding
Epidurals interfere with the natural cascade of birth hormones and have been associated with fewer successful breastfeeding relationships in the first 24 hours.
Epidural anesthesia does cross the placenta and affect baby at similar or higher rates as mom. A sleepy mom and baby will find it very difficult to begin nursing during the important window just after birth. Additionally, epidural anesthesia may cause baby’s suck to be depressed or disorganized, which makes breastfeeding much more difficult.
Routine newborn procedures, where baby is separated from mom for any length of time, can also negatively impact the breastfeeding relationship. Immediate skin-to-skin contact with mom helps baby to transition from womb to world. When baby is unmedicated and left skin-to-skin with mom, he will instinctively find his way to her breast and latch on with little, if any, assistance. In addition to this, skin-t0-skin bonding regulates baby’s heart rate, blood sugar, temperature and helps to inoculate the baby’s microbiome!
7. Better long-term health for baby
Cesarean births are unavoidable and beneficial for about 10% of pregnancies, and truly save lives. But, babies born via c-section lose out on the benefits of vaginal birth, like better lung development and gut flora, so it’s best to avoid one if possible.
Research published in the British Medical Journal showed that c-section babies are more likely to develop obesity, asthma, and type 1 diabetes later in life. They are also hospitalized more often for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorder, immune system defects, leukemia, and other tissue disorders throughout their lives.
We know that unhealthy gut flora can contribute to allergies, autoimmunity, vascular disease, some cancers, depression/anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders and type 2 diabetes.
If a c-section becomes necessary for you and your baby, don’t beat yourself up! Birth is about life on life’s terms. Know that you can optimize the experience by choosing a Gentle Cesarean. This practice will help boost the health of your newborn and create some of the positive benefits of a natural childbirth.
8. Quicker recovery
A natural birth allows you to feel almost back to normal right after birth. Many moms are already joking around minutes after birth. Natural birth allows for the natural oxytocin high that gives mom a boost of energy to bond with baby by cuddling, beginning skin-to-skin touching, breastfeeding, and eye contact, which in turn helps expel the placenta and reduce the chances of postpartum hemorrhage.
“Can I really have a natural childbirth?”
Yes! Ninety percent of U.S. women can have an unmedicated, vaginal childbirth. If you’re low-risk, that number is even higher.
There will always be times when interventions are needed and we are incredibly lucky and thankful to have them easily accessible, but for most women, an intervention-free, natural childbirth is absolutely possible.
Are you pregnant and considering a natural childbirth?
Check out my free webinar on the 8 keys to help you achieve your best and most natural birth! This free, 45-minute class is taught by me, Mama Natural, and my friend Maura who is a registered nurse (RN) doula.
Click the image below to register for the free webinar: 8 Keys to a Natural Birth
- Cesarean versus Vaginal Delivery: Long term infant outcomes and the Hygiene Hypothesis
- Giant Study Links C Sections to Chronic Disorders
- Ucp2 Induced by Natural Birth Regulates Neuronal Differentiation of the Hippocampus and Related Adult Behavior
- Effect of Delayed Cord Clamping on Neurodevelopment at 4 Years of Age
- How Doulas Have A Huge, Positive Impact On C-Section Rates
- Using Narcotics For Pain Relief During Childbirth
- Jaundice, Newborn
- Childbirth and Breastfeeding