Why I Chose Natural Childbirth

Natural Childbirth

Birth. To say that giving birth is a life-changing moment, is a complete understatement. Having a baby is something that completely rocks your world, transforms your life, how you view yourself, and how your brain works forever. After I gave birth to my first child, I didn’t recognize myself any longer. It was as if my brain began working in a completely different way.

After giving birth to my first child, I analyzed situations differently, my ability to have a fantastic memory was gone, and I’m pretty sure I am missing several brain cells. Birth in and of itself is a wonderful, blessed experience, but to me it was also traumatic (my first birth, anyway – more to come in my next post on my incredible second birth that happened at home).

My first child was born with a congenital heart defect. Since his birth, he has had two open-heart surgeries, and another one is planned for the near future. As someone who is passionate about natural childbirth and getting those first bonding moments with a baby, I was traumatized by the mere fact that my baby was taken from my grasp minutes after he was born (despite assurances from both the cardiologist and the other medical staff that this would not be necessary).

I had just been through 26 hours of intense labor without the use of any type of medication. I won’t sugar-coat it – that stuff is rough. Would I change it and ask for medication to help with the pain or cause the labor to move along more quickly? Never in a million years. 3 reasons:

  1. Any kind of medication that you take while pregnant goes directly into the placenta that is transferred to your baby. So while you are getting an adult dose of medication, so is your tiny little infant.
  2. The side effects of these medications are just plain scary. If you read through all those warnings on that information sheet (you know…the one you have signed a document agreeing that you read it and understand the risks but are okay with risking your life and your baby’s) , you’ll realize that you both could suffer very seriously from something like paralysis for the rest of your life or you could die. Yeah, that’s not just something they say for the sake of covering themselves – women and babies do actually die from epidurals or pitocin on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to put up with some pain so that I don’t risk the death of my child or myself.
  3. Most women that take pitocin to induce labor usually end up in more pain, the baby is put at risk from the unnatural intensity of the contractions, and a C-section is required because the baby goes into distress. Pitocin-induced contractions are not natural. They are more severe, and usually both the mother’s body and the baby’s body are not able to handle it. If you want a nearly sure-fire way to get a C-section, then plan an inducement.

The birth experience is a very personal thing. It’s not for me to say what you should do, but I can tell you what I chose to do. I chose to opt for the safety of my baby and myself. Giving birth is already a dangerous venture. People can die even in natural childbirth. So why would I want to add even more risk to a precarious and potentially deadly situation?

Looking at the statistics on childbirth, mortality rates have risen astronomically since the medical industry has taken over. Better education and some medical help has helped in certain countries, but the U.S. mortality rate is worse than 40 other industrialized countries. Interesting.

Knowledge is power. And I am so thankful that I gained valuable knowledge in the Bradley Childbirth class that my husband and I took before the birth of my first child. If I had not educated myself, then I probably would have gone along with the doctor when she tried to get me to speed up labor unnaturally. Who knows how this would have affected my son and his heart condition.

So this post is not meant to point fingers or tell you that you are an awful person for opting for that epidural. It is merely meant to show you the choices I have made, and possibly give you some good food for thought. Once you have knowledge, you have that power within your hands and are no longer subject to the whims of medical personnel that are influenced by bonuses received from drug companies, are in a hurry to finish labors before the shifts end, and will make more money off of your birth if you have a C-section vs. a natural child birth.

Don’t get me wrong. Doctors and nurses do have their place. They save lives every single day, and I am so thankful that we have such wonderful men and women helping people every day. My son would probably not be alive today if it wasn’t for his amazing Cardiologists. But, I do believe that there is far too much medical interference in childbirth these days.

These are my reasons for choosing natural childbirth. What are your reasons?

Photo courtesy of mark ovaska. This post is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a medical professional if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. 

35 Comments:
  1. They are warning you about extreme situations. You shouldn’t feel forced into natural labor out of fear. There are also dangers with natural birth, with anything really.

    I was induced, had the epidural and had a wonderful birth experience. I now have a healthy, breastfed, intelligent and active 15 month old.

    I think it’s about educating yourself and following your body and your instincts. I don’t feel comfortable with the way this article scare the reader into believing this of the only right way.

    • She is only giving her thoughts and said it’s not for everyone. I just happen to agree with her.

  2. Great post, Crystal! I feel so blessed to be bearing children now, when I have the option to give birth naturally, while still having medical help available if something goes wrong — versus 30 years ago, when natural births were rare, or a hundred years ago, when medical intervention in emergencies wasn’t really possible.

    I chose to birth my son naturally because I try to avoid medication in general, and certainly didn’t want my baby to receive adult doses of very powerful drugs! I’d also heard that one intervention (pitocin, epidural, etc.) often leads to other interventions, and I did *not* want to end up on the C-section table unless it was truly an emergency! My son was born two weeks early, and since I thought I just had Braxton Hicks far into my labor (which was only 12 hours), he was born just two hours after our arrival at the hospital. I had a great experience, with no pressure from doctors or nurses to take any drugs or “hurry up.” The pain was bad, but I actually never hit the “I can’t do this” wall during my labor. I was just so excited to see my baby, and the Bible verses I’d written down during my pregnancy helped me to work through each contraction one at a time. Plus, my OB is super relaxed, and there was a fantastic labor and delivery nurse at my hospital. I was worried about having a hospital birth, having heard horror stories, but my experience was actually really great.

    Everyone is different, and I have two friends who were given Pitocin, but otherwise had a natural birth — I can’t imagine how hard that would be! Others seem to do great with epidurals, and I’d be the last one to criticize them for that choice; it’s a personal decision, and every person has a different pain threshold (and a different birth story).

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write an essay! :-) Thank you for sharing your experiences, and for the encouragement to study the available options and make an informed decision. Sometimes living in the “Information Age” is a great thing!

    Blessings,
    Shannon

  3. While I am a huge advocate of “natural” birth, I find the tone of this article to be very heavy-handed. I think it could have been written in a far better way (I find your reasons #3 to be particularly offensive).

    I have a 13 month old, and planned a med-free birth all along: took the classes, read the books, hired a doula. I wanted to do it for many reasons, obviously, but one of my biggest was so that I could see what my body was capable of (I couldn’t get pregnant without injections; I wanted to at least give birth on my own), and to have the full experience of giving birth without pain meds.

    Well, 42 weeks came around (no due date confusion, obviously, as I went through fertility treatments) and there I was, still hugely pregnant. In hindsight, the baby was probably just fine, but at the time he wasn’t responding as well as they’d like on the tests. I “chose to opt for the safety of my baby and myself”, as you stated, and after talking to the hospital midwives, we decided to do an induction that night. I was very carefully monitored, the pitocin was given to me at the lowest possible dose, and with the help of my husband and doula, I still gave birth without any pain meds, despite the induction and having all back-labor (I know people say pitocin contractions are more severe, but it being my first labor, I didn’t know the difference anyway). Yes, we did have a couple complications after the birth (the baby was fine after a minute, I was not so good for a couple days), but who knows if they were due to the induction or something else. As well-read on the subject as I was, I knew the risks going in, but I made the best decision I could at the time.

    While I would absolutely encourage other women to plan for a med-free birth, I think the most important thing is that all women need to be well-informed on the pros and cons of either side, no matter which decision they make. I certainly wouldn’t stand in the way of a well-informed woman choosing an epidural. And sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Also, not all hospitals and doctors are evil (I was never once offered pain meds during labor, and they respected my wishes to their fullest ability), and as such I find your statements to be very generalized. Yes, there are certainly some very large issues that need to be addressed concerning childbirth, but you need to be careful in how you address them.

  4. wow…talk about heavy handed! Alice…it is just her story of why she made her choices. You can also choose to read indictments and criticism into it…I personally don’t see it. This is always a subject that trips people out and frankly, Crystal is brave to take it on at all.
    Your experience is your own…and not exactly typical of the inducements of the women that I know. Most of those birth stories are rough and go quite askew of the original hopes the women had. To say that Pitocin isn’t natural and the contractions typically produced are stronger is simply a fact…not a judgment.
    I think Crystal was careful in how she handled the subject but, in the end, it is her experience and her opinion. She is allowed that, after all.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely applaud Crystal for bringing natural birth into the limelight, and for sharing her story. I just would have appreciated more facts and statistics rather than sweeping generalizations, such as that if “you want a nearly sure-fire way to get a C-section, then plan an inducement”. Yes, Pitocin can be nasty stuff, and will increase the c-section risk in certain cases (especially if done when not necessary and at too high of a dose – perhaps she should include the statistics on risk?), but it can also be very medically beneficial if done correctly at the appropriate time. Or stating that medical personnel are only interested in money and delivering the baby before the end of their shift, when there are also plenty of wonderful doctors and hospitals out there who have your best interest in mind.

      Sometimes I feel like the argument for natural birth can go a little too far, and make childbirth seem even more frightening than society has already made it out to be. While pregnant, reading articles or books like this which only highlight the scare-factor made me feel like I was certainly doomed if I ended up with any sort of medical intervention, which simply isn’t true. It made me feel terrified of giving birth (of even trying to give birth naturally), instead of looking forward to the beautiful experience that it can be.

  5. I didn’t read your post (yet) but as a certified lactation counselor, the biggest plus for me is that it really helps in getting a good start to breasfeeding!! (on my phone, I’ll read post later!)

  6. I chose natural unmedicated births for both my children. It was hard! But it was well-worth the benefit of knowing I didn’t put anything potentially hazardous into my body or my children’s body’s.

  7. I chose natural as well. About 5 months after seeing my friend in labor… she was given an epidural after having been induced about 18 hours prior. Her blood pressure dropped to a very unsafe level, and her baby’s heart rate went through the roof. That terrified me. When it came time for me to deliver my own baby, I refused ALL medications and medical intervention. I was blessed to have my body go into labor on it’s own (with LOTS of walking and such on my part). I did it and my daughter was fine.

    3 1/2 years later when I had my son I had a “pitocin happy” nurse. Though my labor had started on my own, she was determined to pump pitocin into my body. I kept praying and she kept getting distracted and was unable to give me the pitocin. I did tell her (about 200 times) that if she really wanted to see my labor progress she would need to break my water. Well, lazy doctors who don’t want to come in on a Saturday morning made it so they couldn’t break my water for HOURS. When the doctor finally did come in and break my water he said “You are dilated to a 6, almost a 7. I’ll go ahead and break your water.” He broke my water at 11:30am. My son was born at 11:48am. Eighteen minutes of intense labor, 2 pushes and my son arrived. I am not a fan of medical intervention and it’s kept me from wanting to have another baby.

  8. I’ve been blessed to have 4 kids and 4 homebirths. Though painful, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was so wonderful to be in my own space and not have to worry about travel or hospital germs (or food) ;)

  9. Natural is the best choice whenever possible. Induction is, however, often required for the safety of both mother and child. Both my son and daughter were induced at 37 weeks due to complications from gestational diabetes. They are beautiful, intelligent, healthy kids. Without induction things could have turned out incredibly different. With my son, my placenta disintegrated in the doctor’s hand and my daughter had a true knot in her umbilical cord and was born in a matter of minutes. Had I not been at the hospital at the time, things would definitely have turned out differently. I wouldn’t change a thing for my circumstances.

  10. I chose natural because I pushed my sons out, yes I did have an epidural and I think it is offensive to women out there to say that anything with pain meds is not natural.

    • Natural is not having any pain meds. An epidural is medicine and not natural. I am offended when women claim to have had “natural chldbirth” and then tell they had an epidural..Please learn the difference..

  11. My thinking and philopsophy is quite similar to yours. We also took Bradley classes. When we started them, I was not sold on a natural birth, but by the end I felt like it was the best choice for both me and my baby. I also believe in the way God designed us and allowing things to happen naturally. That is not to say that there are exceptions to this, but it does make me sad how much the medical world has taken over controlling (and often forcing) the birth process. Was my birth experience painful and super hard…yes, but would I do it the same way all over again…yep.

  12. My first 2 children were delivered when I went into labor on my own but I did have an epidural with both and it wore off when it came time to push so I felt everything which to me is great cause it is the labor that wears u out! But my 3rd was overdue (1day) I know that’s not a lot but I was miserable and I asked to be induced the dr agreed and I had no problems I started pitocin at 7 am and delivered my healthy big 9#4oz girl at 12:30 pm! The epidural lasted the entire time and I couldn’t feel when I needed to push and my husband had to pick me up to move to my room! I would rather have had it like the first 2! But to be induced personally I needed it! I mean I surely didn’t want a 10# baby nor did I ever want to have a c section! My body responded well! For me I understand women who say they don’t want to drug their baby but my kids are perfectly normal! Also I always say it isn’t like when we get to heaven there will be awards for having a natural childbirth. I also breastfed each for a full year and while I think it is best both have their benefits and setbacks! With my first I fed every hour around the clock so for 4 months he ate 24 times a day NO JOKE! But I kept with it and I am so glad I did! Oh he got diagnosed with Gerd at age 4 so that makes sense in hindsight!

  13. I wanted a med free birth for both of my children, but ended up having inductions with both due to moderate (with my son) and then severe (with my daughter) preeclampsia. My BP got so elevated with my second child that I was considered an imminent stroke risk. Do I wish I could have done birth “naturally”? Yes. Would I change anything about having two happy, healthy children thanks to my doctor’s interventions? Absolutely not. I think the most important thing to remember about childbirth is that even if things aren’t able to progress as you’d like or hoped for, having a healthy baby is worth the disappoints!

  14. Due to preeclampsia, I had to be induced at 33 weeks with my first. Never went into labor, so had to have c-section. My daughter had her cord wrapped around her neck and had 2 true knots in it. I believe that God kept me from going into labor with her. Also had preeclampsia with my 2nd, and had a c-section at 26 weeks. My babies weighed 3lbs. 6 ozs. And 1lb. 13 ozs. Would much rather have had a natural birth, but that wasn’t what the Lord had planned for us.

  15. And you are so right that the doctors taking your baby away from you immediately after birth is very traumatizing! I didn’t get to see my 1st until almost 48 hours after her birth!!

  16. I never liked hospital was terrified of it, so rather have natural birth at an environment where I’m complete comfort with. 85 hours of labor I did not think I would have made it if was not for wonderful supporters and midwife.

  17. My 5′ 4″ daughter had a 10 lb. 8 oz. baby at home with 2 midwives, NO tears, her water broke naturally about 10 minutes before the birth.

  18. I gave birth naturally and had to have 60+ stitches afterwards because of all the tearing. Even though he was born right at 37 weeks, his head was the diameter of a 43-week old baby and I must say that the pain was so horrendous that it made my child birth experience horrible. It physically makes me nauseous to this day to think about the pain and makes me wonder if I would have children again. I do agree that drugs are over-used but I do not judge anyone for choosing to get an epidural.

  19. I don’t have much to say about choosing natural childbirth, as a lot of my opinions have already been stated by other readers and because I’ve struggled with getting pregnant. However, I would like to say that I work in the healthcare field as a nurse in the delivery room, and I took great offense to the comment of “medical personnel…are in a hurry to finish labors before the shifts end, and will make more money off of your birth if you have a C-section vs. a natural child birth”. That is completely false, and I understand some people may feel that way so it’s your opinion. But I don’t feel as though it should be written in that tone as though it’s a truth.
    Also, another reader wrote that their “lazy doctor” did not want to come in early in the morning to break her water? I think a lot of people do not understand that doctors have more than one patient, and often more than one place of work. They are not just sitting at home reading a newspaper and drinking coffee before they decide they should get to work. I think that’s an unfair statement.
    I’m not trying to cause a stir up but I felt really uneasy reading some of this. I understand it’s your opinion, and yes, I agree that you are brave to write on this subject.

  20. Precious Crystal~
    Working as an R.N. in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) has taught me great
    respect for each families decision regarding their child birthing experience. However,
    one thing I do know, is “EVERYONE DESIRES A HEALTHY BABY AND A HEALTHY MOTHER,” after the beautiful birthing experience has naturally
    transpired. Should the neonate or the mother be in danger of low APGAR
    score leading to brain damage, or the mother developing a severe infection, hypertension, diabetes, or perhaps a ruptured placenta~dear sweet ones, a home birth
    will surely affect the outcome of the lives of both baby and mother. In a hospital setting emergency equipment such as oxygen, IV fluids, cardiac medications, and
    emergency staff is present to help to sustain life and to begin CPR on infants who
    have been stressed during the delivery process to prevent further brain/organ damage. We only have a four to six minute window to work on distressed infants/mothers while they are critical before long term damage results. Yes the mortality rate is high in the USA, should we research further, we would all understand that this is because we preform open heart surgeries, treat serious infections, and are able to save the lives of premature infants born at 24-25 weeks. No other advanced country can boast regarding putting forth such extreme efforts in saving these precious ones.These fragile infants that perish are taken into the mortality count. Praise God your dear infant is able to receive such outstanding medical treatment and
    the heart condition is correctable. Because we try to sustain life, we loose more of those who are born with congenital deformities, or premature infants. Is this morally correct? That is a question each family must decide. The Bradley Method is only one
    of many methods of natural childbirth available. Birthing Centers in Hospitals are a safe alternative, where as infant/mother are in a private setting, yet professionals are
    on standby to preserve precious life during that “critical four to six minute window.” The public in not aware that two of every ten births is observed in NICU immediately after birth for symptoms of sepsis, respiratory, cardiac, or other complications.
    As there are two sides to each story, I have witnessed many home births rushed into the NICU which have not had positive outcomes. Praying this counsel is received not to scare or frighten any young mothers, however, to encourage and to remind us that Our Lord has gifted professionals to aid during crisis deliveries and to sustain (oath) precious lives for His Glory. As All Is Grace, Roslyn

  21. The first birth my mother/doula wasn’t there. I did my best I felt to go natural. The dr lepta telling my the baby was fighting my contractions and I wasn’t relaxing so he couldn’t turn. At 9/10cm I got an epidural and couldn’t feel my chest or wiggle my toes for near next 7 hours they gave it to me SO strong. My second we had a water birth. We went from 5-10cm SO quickly the midwife described it as going from 0-120 n matter of a few finger snaps. It was intense feeling him descend.

  22. This post was not meant to cast judgment on anyone. I was merely sharing my story and why I chose natural childbirth. I’m sorry if anything I said came across offensive.

  23. A lot more women and babies died during childbirth 50 years ago then do today. Not advocating c-sections, just saying we shouldn’t make people feel bad about needing one when sometimes death is imminent without one.

  24. I ususally really like your views on different topics and find them them to be informative. I think this post is a little too judgemental. The most important part of childbirth is to do what is best for each individual circumstance that is decided upon with the professionals involved. Whether the professionals be md, midwives, doulas, or anyone else. We all like to think we are in control of how we give birth and the special time right after birth, but unfortunaltely things happen and sometimes our control is limited. I don’t think it matters “how” you give birth in the end, hopefully you the result is a healthy baby. I was induced with 3 out 4 of my children, all with great outcomes.

  25. I really enjoyed reading your birth story, and appreciate your honesty and transparency! You were spot-on with the comment about 40 other industrialized nations being ahead of the US in terms of infant mortality. Actually, mortality rates almost exactly follow the trend of c/s rates…. coincidence? I think not. Where and with whom you give birth is a very personal decision for every family; you did a wonderful job of offering a new perspective and food for thought. Home birth is very consistent with the rest of your “natural” choices.
    Many blessings to you!

  26. Thank you for sharing your story on such a personal subject Crystal! I’m sure it took you a long time to decide the time was right to share this story and your opinion, knowing it would cause such a stir of emotion from readers, but thank you for your bravery! People always think “their way” is best, especially when it comes to birth and breastfeeding and raising children, it goes on and on. Everyone in the world likes to offer their “two cents” (their opinion) and tell their story, and it’s instinct to judge the person who shares their story or get defensive, but we need to let these things roll off us and not take it so personally. We all get tons of advice every day, we just weigh each thing ourselves and make our own choices.

    Everyone’s situation is different and as long as people make educated decisions that are best for them in their situation, that’s all that matters. It makes me sad to hear moms say the staff at the hospital basically forced them to do things certain ways. I was truly blessed to have a great hospital and doctor who let me lead the way and make decisions for myself. Your spouse or birth partner or whatever also make a big difference in your mental state during the birth, plus we all have our own level of pain tolerance and stamina.

  27. AFter 3 medicated births and being very unhappy with each one and my recovery I opted for natural childbirth with my fourth. Yes it hurt, but not nearly as bad as I had figured it would and I was so very glad I did it. My recovery was 10 times easier than with my first 3, it was awesome!

  28. I didn’t make it through all the comments, but I had an epidural “normal” hospital birth with my first. Although it was a fabulous experience and actually went very fast, I decided the second time around that I really wanted to do a natural water birth. my hospital is amazing and my doctor is amazing – so I was able to do a water birth in the hospital. It was incredible and I would hands down choose natural birth over an epidural. I did hit the “i cant do this anymore” wall, but I had wonderful nurses and a fabulous doctor that helped me make it through (without ever suggesting meds)… it was an amazing experience and one I will forever cherish!

  29. I’m reading this late but wanted to chime in. Just delivered my 4th child 5 weeks ago- all have been born naturally, w/no meds. There is no pain like childbirth pain, and natural birth is no joke, but I would not change a thing. I am deeply grateful I got the beautiful birth experiences I did, and super grateful for my husband and midwives who helped me through each one. But I respect the choices other women make by choice or out of medical necessity. I really don’t think natural birth is for everyone and feel sad that we often start our mothering experiences feeling judged or defensive.

  30. I really liked this article and I also did choose a natural birth and no medication. I am the kind of person that avoids medicine period so obviously I did not want any of this given to my child. Its definitely a personal decision and every one has a different experience. I only have one child and I got to say that I was blessed with an almost painless labor. My daughter was 2 weeks early and when I started feeling cramps like pain I thought it was premature contractions and never ocurred to me that I was in lablor. To make a story short I arrived to the hospital at noon and my daughter was born at 12:23 pm. Yes only 23 minutes after arriving to the hospital and it would had been faster but I had to wait 15 minutes for my doctor to arrive. I prayed to God all through my pregnancy to give me the strenght to be able to have a completetly natural birth and he definitely heard my prayers. Hopefully if I ever have another child I will be able to have another completely natural birth but this is my personal decision. I wanted to experience childbirth completely and I am very blessed to have been able to do it, a lot of women dont get to experience it so I consider it a blessing :)

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