Women’s bodies are designed to conceive and to birth babies with a minimal amount of interventions. From records reaching as far back as 3000 B.C. we know that women had their babies naturally and with a minimal amount of discomfort, unless there was complication. Birth was not considered to be an illness and nobody associated birth with pain. The majority of births took place at home free of mechanical and chemical interventions.
Natural Childbirth Gets Supplanted
The precedence for using anesthesia in birthing was created by Queen Victoria in the late 1800s when she insisted that she be given chloroform when she birthed. After this event, birthing began to move from homes to the hospital because it was considered too dangerous to administer anesthesia in the home. Unfortunately, the maternity wards were notoriously dirty and women died from infections from unwashed hands.
Once anesthesia became readily available, birthing standards went from being intervention free to overprescribed. Early administration of drugs and anesthesia became the norm for all births and women were given heavy doses of painkillers during the early stages of labor and they were given general anesthesia as soon as it appeared the baby was ready to get born. Thus births became a drugged event where the babies were pulled from their mothers with the help of instruments.
Reasons for Natural Childbirth
Fortunately, for the health and continuance of the human race many mothers are returning to natural childbirth. They want to retain control of their bodies and be active participants of their labor. They want to avoid interventions such as epidurals, in order to prevent the many dangerous side effects and they want to birth drug free babies. Epidurals often slow the labor down especially in the second stage of labor. This in turn leads to an increased risk of the need for forceps or the birthing mother might be given an oxytocin drip to speed things up. Use of oxytocin can reduce the chance of a normal delivery to less than 50% and she could end up with a caesarian section.
A woman might be given an episiotomy if the second stage of labor is too long or if forceps are being used. This intervention in turn leads to the need for stitches to repair the damage and it may be painful for the woman to sit until the episiotomy is healed.
It’s interesting that pregnant women are warned to stay away from caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol in order to avoid possible harm to their unborn baby yet the doctors push drugs in the delivery room without knowing the side effects on the baby. So far, there is little or no research or information about the effects of epidurals on babies. However, it is evident that the drugs can reach levels at least as high as those in the mother.
Natural Childbirth Programs
Women who elect to have a natural childbirth have several options available to them. The majority of these programs advocate minimum interventions and use of drugs, they suggest engaging professional labor support such as a doula and a midwife and they mention water births. All of the programs seek to involve both partners in the birthing process and they encourage them to ask questions. Several of the programs are predicated on the premise that birth involves pain. Consequently, they teach methods for minimizing the pain while praising the women for their willingness to endure for the sake of their babies.
HypnoBirthing teaches that fear and tension create pain and that pain can be eliminated by total relaxation. Naturally, we recommend HypnoBirthing as this is the method we are most familiar with. However, we rejoice in the fact that women are returning to natural childbirth and happily welcome the new generations born drug and intervention free.