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Natural Childbirth

Times change, and often we find that what once was old is new again. This is the case with natural childbirth. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, giving birth at home became harder due to crowded living spaces and often filthy living conditions. As a result many lower class and urban women were drawn to newly available hospitals. During this time most middle-class and wealthy women continued to labor at home. There was an increasing availability of hospitals in the early 1900s. The middle classes in the United States were very attracted to the medicalization of giving birth. So it was that more women began going into the hospital for labor and delivery.

Beginning in the 1940s a move away from hospital births and back to home deliveries began. Mothers and childbirth professionals started to reexamine the commonly held assumptions about the safety of medicalized births. Doctors Michel Odent and Frederick Leboyer and midwives like Ina May Gaskin began promoting alternatives such as homebirth, birthing centers, and water birth, rather than hospital model. It should be noted that research has shown that low-tech midwifery provides labor outcomes as good as or better than those found in hospital settings. Except for a small percentage of high-risk cases there are also fewer interventions.

It has been said that nature's way is the best way. Natural childbirth is a philosophy of childbirth that is based on the belief that women who are adequately prepared are naturally able to give birth without standard medical interventions. It is seen as much more benefical than hospital birthing techniques that use surgical interventions like caesarean sections, ventouse deliveries, forceps, episiotomies and anesthetic medications such as epidurals. There are differing viewpoints on what may constitute a natural childbirth. The definition of natural may range from any intervention deemed appropriate to no intervention at all. This path to childbirth may be followed during a midwife attended homebirth, midwife attended hospital birth, a physician attended hospital birth or an unassisted birth. The application of this philosophy is obviously open to the mother or parent's interpretation.

More and more women are seeking this natural, unmedicated approach to labor and birth. Natural birth will suit you best if you want to remain in control of your body as much as possible. You will be able to be a more active participant throughout labor. You can also minimize routine interventions such as continuous electronic monitoring. Be aware of the potential for pain and discomfort as part of giving birth if you choose to go this route. But mothers often feel empowered and deeply satisfied by natural childbirth if they go into it with the right preparation and support. Some women have reported that being in charge helps lessen their perception of pain.

Some of the advantages of natural childbirth include a low potential for harm or side effects for you or your baby due to the non-invasive techniques involved. You will also encounter no loss of sensation or alertness and this will allow you move about more freely and move into positions that help you stay comfortable during labor. With natural childbirth you are much less likely to need vacuum extraction, forceps delivery, bladder catheterization or drugs like oxytocin which make your contractions stronger. Women who get epidurals will frequently need such interventions.

Finally, the techniques natural birthing utilizes such as visualization, self-hypnosis and breathing exercises may be used by new moms as relaxation methods in the sometimes challenging days and nights to come. The things you learned that helped you cope with your birthing and labor can be called upon once again to assist you during those times when caring for a newborn feels especially stressful. Your natural birthing methods can really help you to have an easier time dealing with postpartum discomfort, depression and the early days of breastfeeding, especially if breastfeeding is new to you.

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