Pregnancy Information Childbirth Delivery Methods

For centuries, women have given birth. Like other mammals, the process is natural or innate. Generally, the baby develops inside the mother, goes through a series of twists and turns and exits the birth canal into a brave new world. Sometimes the process deviates from expected events: The baby doesn’t develop properly, the twists and turns are confused or the birth canal is too narrow for the baby’s passage.

Over the years, doctors intervened during times like these to assist in difficult births. Assistance led to caution and childbirth, though natural for ninety percent of the population, became medical. Today, to have a baby naturally requires women to know what choices are available and to create a birth plan that mirrors their expectations.

Methods of Natural Childbirth

“Natural” childbirth is the term used to refer to birth without anesthesia medication or surgery. Many women want to have the experience of a natural childbirth when delivering a baby. Natural childbirth also eliminates the risk of drugs harming the baby. Because the natural childbirth method is medication-free, women who choose this method find ways to cope with the pain that comes from delivery.

Over the years, methods like Lamaze and the Bradley Method have helped women employ breathing and relaxation techniques to reduce pain. To keep the experience of birth as non-medical as possible, many women choose midwives over doctors and deliver at home rather than in the hospital. Water births, the birthing of babies in a relaxing tub of water, are another method employed to encourage natural childbirth.

Why Birth Plans are Important

A birth plan is an important part of having a baby. Women should explore the different options for delivery. Discussing your birth plan with a doctor or midwife assures that even in your weakest moments the plan will be followed according to your wishes. Some birth plans oppose any type of medication at any stage of labor. Other birth plans may include last resort pain relief or epidurals.

Birth with Epidural Anesthesia Epidural Anesthesia

Epidural anesthesia is considered a safe method of pain relief during childbirth because very little of the drug goes to the baby. The epidural is injected into the spine in the lower back and numbs the mother from the waist down. A woman who receives an epidural remains awake and aware of her baby’s birth and may still feel some pain and contractions but is spared the intense pain of childbirth.

Potential Risks of Epidural Anesthesia

Some risks exist with epidural anesthesia. On very rare occasions, if the epidural is not administered properly, complications may ensue. Headaches or low blood pressure can be signs of a drug allergy related to the epidural.

For some women the epidural creates the relaxation necessary for the progression of labor and delivery of the baby, while for other women, it may lead to longer labor due to an inability to push.

Some women rise to the challenge of a natural delivery that could involve pain. Some women have a very high threshold of pain. These women might be fulfilled knowing they have delivered their baby in a natural way. My doctor said she urged all of her patients to deliver naturally . . . “until I had my first baby,” she said. Some of us don’t have the pain tolerance or stamina and that’s where pain medication comes in. Pain medication and anesthesia have come a long way from their beginnings. Giving birth is astounding no matter what method a woman chooses.


Beers, M.H.