Giving Birth Naturally

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Conscious Choices Lead to Less Intervention

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A Mother’s Guide to Natural Childbirth

Determining the best birth setting for a mother necessitates sound planning. If an unmedicated birth is a goal, these insights may help in making decisions.

Home birth takes place in the comfort of home, typically with the assistance of a midwife, and is suitable for a healthy woman with a low-risk pregnancy. She is able to wear her own clothing and eat as she pleases. Because monitoring of mother and baby is done intermittently, she is free to move around.

Confirm the midwife’s training and experience; ask how many home births she’s attended and which obstetricians she consults. Discuss the signs and symptoms that might necessitate a move to the hospital and how quickly it can be done. While a midwife’s fee is often far less than the cost of a hospital birth, not all insurance companies cover home births.

A birth center provides personalized, family-centered care in a homelike environment for healthy women. Practitioners follow principles of problem prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention and cost-effectiveness. A midwife typically delivers the baby, but the collaborative practice team also includes obstetricians, pediatricians and other specialists. Mothers experience personal freedoms similar to a home birth, and tubs for water births are usually available, plus other birthing props such as squatting bars, stools and balls.

The center should be accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers. Inquire what the protocol for care will be if complications arise, learn what the center’s charges for care cover and confirm if the family’s insurance policy will pay for the services provided.

A hospital generally has access to the latest medical technology, making it a preferred option for medium-to-high-risk pregnancies. With proper preparations, an unmedicated birth is possible in this traditional setting. Investigate their rates of Cesarean births and episiotomies and the determining parameters.

To allow for an active labor, request intermittent fetal monitoring, avoid intravenous fluids and ask about the availability of birthing props. Become familiar with hospital policies, such as who can be in the delivery room and whether the baby will stay with mom after the birth. If a nurse midwife is not on staff, consider hiring a doula to assist in preparing for and carrying out the family’s birth plan.

Conscious Childbirth Resources

The Yoga of Pregnancy Week by Week: Connect With Your Unborn Child through Mind, Body and Breath
by Mel Campbell

Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds
by Cynthia Gabriel

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
by Ina May Gaskin

Spiritual Midwifery
by Ina May Gaskin

Your Best Birth
by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

The Business of Being Born
a film by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby, Naturally
by Peggy O’Mara

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