Natural Childbirth: The Benefits of an Unmedicated Birth

There is no "best" or "right" way to give birth. How one brings a baby into the world is highly personal and must be well thought through. The "why" behind having an unmedicated delivery is also very subjective and will differ for everyone who decides to go in this direction. In this article, we will talk about the benefits of an unmedicated birth, whether in the hospital or community birth.

Movement

When giving birth without medications, a birthing parent can move more during labor. Changing positions and listening to your body can be a powerful way to manage contractions and help with fetal positioning. Research shows that movement in labor helps reduce pain, shorten labor, and increase the odds of a vaginal delivery. Birthing individuals who were able to move throughout their labor and pushing reported an overall higher satisfaction.

Decrease in Time

Moving positions can play a big part in shortening labor times but going unmedicated also helps to decrease labor time because you can feel the sensations in your body. When a birthing person cannot feel contractions or the urge to push, it can be challenging to figure out how to push and bring the baby here. Because of this, having an unmedicated birth can be highly impactful for a quicker pushing time and a faster delivery in general.

Lesser Tearing

The potential for a lesser tear or no tear can come with an unmedicated birth. This is not always the case, but being able to feel your body’s sensations and change up positioning while pushing is two great ways to help avoid tearing. Often once a birthing parent is crowning, we encourage them to do small grunts to avoid tearing through their tissues. This tip is most helpful when a parent can feel the sensations we are talking about, knowing how to slow things down.

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Faster Recovery Postpartum

Without the drugs and excess water from an IV flowing through the system, recovery may be easier when birthing unmedicated. In addition, a birthing person can get up and move around immediately after birth when they do not have an epidural, which can help with blood circulation and healing.

Easier Breast/Chestfeeding

The pain medications given with the Epidural can pass through the placenta and impact the newborn. It is common for newborns born with medications being administered during labor to be sleepy and struggle with latch. Excess water is pumped into the birthing parent’s system and, therefore, also into the baby’s system, which can increase the newborn’s weight at birth. Because of this excess water weight, another common occurrence is for a newborn to lose “too much” weight, leading to supplementation and a low milk supply.

Lower Risk of Medical Interventions

A common occurrence we see with medical interventions is the “cascade of interventions.” This cascade occurs because, often, one medical intervention leads to another. For example, Epidurals are notorious for slowing down labor, and doctors frequently use Pitocin to speed up labor. But, as the Pitocin makes contractions more uncomfortable, more Epidural is administered, and so on. Sometimes this will lead to a failure to progress, cesarean section, forceps, or vacuum birth.

Another example is induction. Frequently an induction produces contractions that are stronger and longer than regular contractions would be. This can lead to the birthing individual wanting an epidural, which can slow things down and look like our first scenario. However, unmedicated birth has fewer interventions and a less likely chance of a cascade of interventions.

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Safer for Baby

In most cases, babies handle medications given in labor well. However, there are times when an epidural lowers the birthing person’s blood pressure, which can cause the baby’s heart rate to drop or the pain medications to affect the baby’s central nervous system, respirations, and liver. With any intervention, there is always a risk. The best thing a birthing parent can do is weigh out the risks vs. benefits and decide what option feels best for themselves and their baby.

Lastly, in most cases, an unmedicated birth stimulates an oxytocin flood of the birthing parent’s system immediately post-birth. Many birthing parents express feeling empowered by their ability to give birth unmedicated. Many families also express a heightened bonding between them and their new baby. These heightened feelings of love and joy are nature’s way of encouraging bonding between parent and newborn and can be an impactful reason why someone might choose an unmedicated birth.

As I stated, deciding how and where one gives birth is very individual-based. Unmedicated childbirth is a great option available to many birthing individuals. Still, it is not the perfect option for every person. If an unmedicated birth sounds appealing to you, many resources can aid in achieving natural birth, and a doula isn’t a bad idea, either.

 

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