Pregnancy Information Childbirth Natural Delivery

Many women prefer natural childbirth to a birth that involves medications or surgery, but today going to a hospital to have your baby is common practice. For some women, this makes the idea of childbirth more of a medical procedure than a natural process. Many hospitals use birth plans that specifically describe how the mother wishes to proceed with childbirth. This gives the woman control over how the birth process takes place.

Many labor and delivery wards are creating an atmosphere that’s “like home” with single occupancy rooms with deep bathtubs to help during labor, reclining chairs for the laboring mother or support person, CD players and VHS/DVD players.

The Privacy of a Home Birth

Some women choose to have their babies in their own home. Home births provide the parents with familiar surroundings so they feel more comfortable. Home births allow for any or all family members to be present and bond in the experience. Home births give new mothers a chance to sleep and bond without interruptions from hospital staff.

Up to eighty percent of babies outside of the United States are delivered at home. These babies are delivered with the help of nurses and midwives, the same way our ancestors did years ago.

Guidelines for Home Births and Water Births

Home births are not recommended for every pregnancy. Women with a history of high-risk pregnancies or births should have the appropriate medical staff that a hospital offers in the event of a dangerous situation.

Medical organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists do not recommend home births. They believe that certain unexpected situations can arise during childbirth that require the skill of hospital staff. They also believe that birth should follow OSHA guidelines regarding cleanliness and prevention of infection. Warm water births may also have trouble falling into these strict guidelines. Water births have been used in other countries that don’t have the same guidelines as the United States.

Water Births in the United States

Dr. Michael Rosenthal championed the idea of water births in the hospital setting. Water births had been introduced in hospitals in France with some success. Pregnant women who experienced labor in a tub of warm water required less pain medication. Women who tried water birth found themselves more relaxed, allowing natural levels of oxytocin to increase. Oxytocin is the hormone that promotes contraction of the uterus. This natural process begins a chemical reaction that releases endorphins or natural pain-relief substances.

The baby comes into contact with the warm water at birth, and when brought out of the water, takes its first breath of air without excessive stimulation. Some studies claim the need for an episiotomy (surgically cutting the perineum to widen the vaginal opening for birth) is diminished with water births because of the natural effects water has on relaxing and stretching the muscles of the pelvic floor.

New Methods from Old Ideas

Home births and water births are new methods based on old ideas for women to enjoy the process of natural childbirth. Home births and water births reduce the need for medications to relieve pain because they offer ways for the mother to relax while delivering her baby


Beers, M.H.