Women today can choose how to give birth. Some opt for a caesarean, whilst others prefer minimal interference. Read our three-stage guide to doing it without medical intervention.
“As a community midwife, I’ve recently seen a huge rise in the number of mums-to-be opting for a home birth and most do so without using pain relief.
“Control is an essential part of birth. Some women feel empowered if they have an epidural, while others want to feel what’s happening in labour and do it without any intervention at all. If you’re thinking of a natural birth (as in spontaneous, vaginal, drug-and intervention-free), here’s a stage-by-stage explanation.”
- Relaxation is the key to natural birth, and yoga is a great way of learning relaxation and breathing techniques. Many instructors and midwives run classes specifically for pregnancy. Hypnotherapy is also becoming a popular way to learn relaxation techniques for pregnancy and birth. For more information log on to Natal hypnotherapy and HypnoBirthing.
- Gather as much information about pregnancy and birth as you can and enquire about antenatal classes or workshops run by the NCT. You can only make informed choices if you have all the necessary information.
- Take ownership of your pregnancy and birth – this is your baby and it’ll be your birth experience.
- Make a birth plan. Consider the environment into which you want, ideally, to give birth. Ask for the lights to be dimmed, noise kept to a minimum, a specific CD to be played. Consider a water birth and asking for your baby to be put straight onto your chest when he’s born.
First stage of labour
Dilating to 10cm
- Think about having your baby at home, as you’re more likely to have a natural delivery there. If you opt for a hospital birth, still try to stay at home for as much of the labour as possible, where you’ll feel relaxed and be able to freely walk around, eating and drinking.
- During labour, good support from your midwife and birthing partners is essential. You need people you can rely on to stay calm, encourage you and help make sure you have the birth experience you want. Good support will have a huge influence on how your labour goes.
- Stay off the bed. Women who walk around in labour are less likely to need pain relief and more likely to have a straightforward, shorter birth.
- Breathe through the contractions. Concentrate on a long, outward breath, as it’s hard to tense as you breathe out.
- If your face is relaxed, the rest of your body will follow. If you frown and grimace, everything else will tense up. Your partner can gently touch your face, reminding you to relax it.
- Tense muscles stop you releasing natural painkillers (endorphins), so being able to relax in labour is important. Massage can play a big part in helping reduce pain and promoting relaxation.
- Use a birthing pool. You’re more likely to have a natural delivery that way.
Pushing out your baby
- Go with your body. You may have an overwhelming urge to push – don’t try and fight this, but trust in your body’s ability to give birth.
- If contractions feel overwhelming, try to breathe through them. Your baby will still move through the birth canal with the power of the contractions.
- Have the baby put straight onto your chest, and find out the sex for yourself.
Delivering the placenta
In natural childbirth, the placenta will be expelled of its own accord. This is called a physiological third stage. Your baby still has the pulsating cord attached, giving him extra blood, oxygen and nutrients. When it stops pulsating, the cord can be clamped and cut. Your uterus will then contract, expelling the placenta in about an hour.
Remember, any experience of birth can be positive; it doesn’t have to be natural to be good. Plenty of women use pain relief or have intervention and still have a wonderful experience.