How to Increase Your Chances of Having a Safe, Natural Birth

Written by Dionna on October 11th, 2010

Birth, Holistic Health, Pregnancy, Preparing for Parenting
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Photo credit: christyscherrer

If you are interested in a natural birth and want to avoid unnecessary medical interventions,1 there are several steps you can take to increase your odds of having your desired birth experience. Some of the steps advocated by Childbirth Connection are to: a) find a supportive midwife or OB (and one that has low rates of intervention), b) develop a birth plan to share with your provider and support team, c) choose a setting that is conducive to natural birth, d) arrange for continuous labor support from someone who has experience.2

When I asked a group of mama friends what they thought the most important factor is to having a natural birth, the overwhelming response was support. Many women want their partner and/or mother in the room with them while they labor, thinking that the presence of a loved one will be enough. But you may find that a doula will give you added – and irreplaceable – support.

Doula, translated from Greek, means “a woman who serves.” Doulas are trained professionals who “provide[] continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother” during pregnancy, labor, and even after birth. Research shows that doula-attended births result in shorter labors with fewer complications and healthier babies that breastfeed more easily.3 Doulas also provide support to partners, whose help to mothers can increase breastfeeding success and reduce postpartum depression.

If you are concerned about the cost of a doula, take heart – they are affordable. And because doula support will likely help you avoid unnecessary medical interventions, you will make up that cost later in better health and less money spent on health care. If you live in an area that has a doula certification program, you can also inquire about getting free or reduced services by doulas in training.

Another key part of having the birth you want is to educate yourself. Learn what to expect in a natural birth, strategies for managing labor (i.e., hypnobirthing, Bradley method, massage, etc.), and how to avoid interventions. Educate yourself on your legal right to “informed consent” and “informed refusal.”4

Experiencing a natural birth is every woman and newborn’s right. Natural birth is also a joyful event that will result in a healthier and happier mother-baby pair. “Most mothers are healthy and have good reason to anticipate uncomplicated childbirth[;]” it is a matter of education, support, and conscious decision-making that make such births possible.5

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Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.

  1. Read about induction and electronic fetal monitoring in Part 1, internal exams and epidurals in Part 2, and cesarean sections in Part 3.
  2. Tips and Tools: C-Section
  3. What is a doula?
  4. What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean
  5. Why Does the National U.S. Cesarean Section Rate Keep Going Up?

About The Author: Dionna

Code Name: Mama CodeNameMama My NPN Posts

Dionna is co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She blogs about natural parenting and life with a toddler-almost-preschooler at Code Name: Mama. She also co-founded NursingFreedom.org, a site dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding anytime, anywhere.

6 Responses to How to Increase Your Chances of Having a Safe, Natural Birth

  1. Ruth

    Lovely article, and very true! Not only have I read many studies showing that a female doula and/or midwife helps a woman desiring a natural labour, I have also experienced it myself. I had a student midwife in training who acted as my doula (no cost involved, just experience for her). I absolutlely loved her, she was wonderful. I managed a two day labour with a posterior baby completely naturally thanks to my loving husband, the fantastic midwife I had, and our wonderful student midwife. Without her, I am sure it would have been an anxious and overhelming experience. I took only one class in hypnobirthing, and due to my daughter coming early we had no birth prep classes! So these two women got me through the labour and delivery, and they did so with ease. I was able to maintain composure, be aware of everything happening, make my own choices and stay polite with no screaming!! They are amazing sources of support, encouragement and professionalism. I love my husband and I am glad he was there, but I do not know that I could have done it without these women. Our student midwife has recently qualified, and we still stay in touch. She is just amazing in how she has helped. Our son was an emergency caesar at only 25 weeks, and our student midwife even came in to see me then. She is just beautiful. The utter joy and exhileration a mum feels after a natural birth is a far cry from the surgical birth with a room full of strangers. And I am so grateful for our natural birth, I went home just hours afterwards (I had to stay one night after the caesar) and have never felt so empowered. Those hormones really do help us through it, and help us to bond with our babies! I also LOVED the breastcrawl that the midwives had our daughter perform at birth, since the labour was unmedicated. That is something I will never forget.

    • Dionna  

      What a wonderful natural birth story, Ruth! My son was also a long labor with posterior presentation, so I empathize ;) And how touching that your midwife was there to help you deal with your son’s birth – that must have been so terrifying and alien after your first birth.
      Thanks so much for reading and for commenting, I appreciate it!

  2. Ruth

    Posterior babies are certainly stubborn from the start :D The presentation makes it harder, but so rewarding to get through it! Thank you for such a great article, I will post a link to it for other pregnant mums hoping for a natural delivery. It would have been nice to read this before my first birth! It helps to remember that our bodies are designed to birth, our hormones help us, and many routine medical “helps” can actually hinder and harm the natural birthing process. The caesar was not a nice way to deliver after a wonderful first birth. I just hope many more women are able to experience the satisfaction and appreciation of natural birthing. There is nothing else quite like it, and a very beautiful experience. So thank you for this valuable article!! xx

  3. Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes  

    I didn’t experience a natural childbirth with my first baby, but have implemented some of your suggestions this time around for my second baby – I am using a midwife as my health care provider(rather than an OB) and also will be supported by a birth doula. I am keeping my fingers crossed that with their support, I can do it this time!

  4. Tabetha Smelser  

    Reading more and more articles like this make me all that much more certain that having a Doula is something I definitely want for the birth of my first baby, and every baby after that.

    Also, I need to figure out what my right would be in a hospital. I want to be able to say no to procedures if they are absolutely unnecessary.

    Such a great article!!!

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