Maybe you’ve heard of a friend who is planning a home birth, and you just can’t understand why someone would pass up the offer of painkillers during an experience as painful as childbirth. Maybe you’re pregnant yourself and you’re exploring the difference between an OBGYN’s care and a midwife’s. Maybe you’re planning on having an epidural, but your friend told you that her epidural never took, and she had to go without painkillers without really being prepared to do that.
Natural childbirth is worth preparing for because:
1. Nature knows her stuff. The physiology of an intervention-free natural childbirth flows from the initiation of labour through the birth of the baby and placenta to milk production based on physical and hormonal triggers that are perfectly integrated. There are exceptions, of course, but for most healthy women with healthy pregnancies, a drug and intervention-free birth is totally possible and is what your body and baby are, evolutionarily speaking, set up to expect.
2. The cocktail of hormones and endorphins released during a drug-free childbirth prime the mother to feel a strong and immediate bond with her new baby. It is totally possible to bond with baby hours or days after the birth, and not bonding immediately does not mean you’re broken or hopeless. Preparing for a natural childbirth simply stacks the odds in your favour that bonding will occur during the 1-2 hour window of quiet alertness most babies and moms experience after birth.
3. Bonding matters. Bonding helps trigger milk production and the milk ejection reflex, through the action of oxytocin and prolactin. A strong bond sets the pair up for an easier time breastfeeding as all those love hormones create a close, strong attachment between mama and baby. Even after breastfeeding is well established, a strong, secure attachment is the foundation for the next 18 years of parenting, discipline and loving guidance.
These benefits associated with the natural hormones and physiological process of birth are the primary reasons to prepare for a natural childbirth, but there are plenty of other good reasons to prepare for a natural birth and avoid interventions, including epidural side effects for mom and baby, the risk of hemmorhage and infection from a cesarean scar and birth trauma from vacuum or forceps delivery. Preparing for birth means learning what you can do to increase your chances of a best case scenario: an intervention and drug free birth followed by quick postpartum healing and getting breastfeeding established without any major hassles.
Many people come to Attachment Parenting through this first principle, Prepare for Pregnancy and Birth, by reading the literature on birth and coming to the conclusion that it’s in everybody’s best interest to leave a perfectly functioning system do its thing in peace. Everybody, that is, except for private hospitals and insurance companies. You don’t have to be a birkenstock-wearing hippie to choose a natural birth, but it’s likely that you’ll be well-educated in the physiology of birth and the benefits of going drug-free.
For more information on preparing for a natural childbirth, check out some of my past articles and blog posts:
- 10 Pain Management Techniques for Natural Childbirth
- Keeping Your Newborn Baby With You is Part of Healthy Birth
- How a Copy of New Active Birth Changed My Life
- Preparing for a Natural Childbirth: Drug-Free Labour and Delivery is Possible
And these other great resources:
- Birthing from Within
- Spiritual Midwifery
- New Active Birth
- The Business of Being Born
And The Hippie Housewife’s first installment of her Attachment Parenting series, Birth Bonding.