The actual act of giving birth can be hugely daunting to some people. In fact, it puts a lot of people off carrying babies in the first place. However, if you know how to manage pain and you know how to best prepare for a long, exhausting activity, you might be able to handle it. You're probably weighing your options: C-sections are scheduled, but result in hugely long recovery times and leave room for a lot to go wrong. Epidurals can be nice, but they can also be numbing and leave the mother and the baby dazed and out of it during the most magical moment of the mother's life.
This article will go through a few of the reasons why it might be advantageous for a pregnant person to carry a baby to term and then have a natural birth as opposed to getting a C-section or epidural. Friendly reminder, though, that these might not be good for everybody. If there’s a health reason why a full-term natural birth might not be the choice for you (because you’ve had a C-section before), you might want to talk to your doctor before trying a natural birth. It is a tedious and painful process, but you’ll reap a huge amount of satisfaction and happiness from it, and studies show that you’ll be glad you chose a full-term natural birth.
15 Less Potential for Intervention
When having a natural birth that is carried to term, a pregnant person will not be put under the influence of any pain medications like an epidural or any other anesthetics; it will be up to the pregnant person to select different positions and things to relieve pain themselves. This will mean the pregnant person has more influence over what their body is doing and when, so they will have less need for medical intervention in any form or fashion to assist in the delivery.
Medical intervention could be anything from forceps to an episiotomy. Avoiding an epidural or C-section will mean that the pregnant person will almost certainly avoid those measures and a natural delivery ensures that there will be little to no intervention on behalf of the healthcare provider and the baby will be able to emerge from the vaginal canal without complications or further issues.
14 No C-Section
Making the choice to carry a baby to term can sound less appealing than scheduling a time to have the baby removed and have your body sewn back up. It sounds easy and simple and like the logical decision, however, there are a lot of drawbacks to a C-section. Namely, recovery time is much more difficult with a C-section. While during some births, C-sections are called for on an emergency basis, it’s better to choose not to do that unless you have a history with cesarean births and have reason to think that for you, it’s the better way to go.
A natural birth reduces the risk of an emergency cesarean, too. It’s less likely that your body won’t respond and you’ll have difficulty pushing the baby out, so the baby will be better aligned and better coordinated along with you, and that will mean for an easier birth with less chance of a cesarean section having to be performed under pressure and speed.
13 More Alertness for Mother
Because of the effects that anesthesia has on the body, a pregnant person who chooses to use an epidural may experience some of the negative side effects, most of which involve not being alert. This lack of alertness can cause a pregnant person to miss out on most of the birth process and not be able to push or use breathing exercises because of being ‘dazed’ at the time.
In addition, the pregnant person will also be out of it after the birth and will not be as responsive when seeing the baby for the first time. If you want to have a really intimate moment after birth with your child, an epidural or C-section might not be the way to go, as those procedures will put you under the influence of anesthetics that will make it harder for you to concentrate and be alert and in the moment during this event in your life.
12 More Alertness for Baby
The epidural or other anesthetics used during ‘unnatural’ kinds of labor alter not only the alertness of the mother but also alter the alertness of the baby. Studies show that babies that come out of pregnant people with anesthetics or an epidural will also have differences in their alertness compared to babies who have a natural birth. These differences are small and don’t usually result in a fatal problem, however, they are worth noting because small problems can stack up quickly in infants.
Most of the difference in this alertness is noted in the first few hours after the birth has taken place. A pregnant person will find that their baby will have a harder time locating and latching onto the nipple in order to breastfeed and will be quiet and not particularly responsive as opposed to a naturally birthed baby that might have much more responsiveness and have less difficulty breastfeeding early on.
11 Sense of Pride
Giving birth, as you can well imagine, is no easy feat. It takes hours, sometimes even days, involves a lot of stamina, pain, sweat, and sometimes tears (and definitely blood) as a pregnant person works to bring a new life into the world. With an epidural, the pain goes down, but the pregnant person misses a lot of the activity, and the partner will not be going through it with them either as they might be in the natural process helping with breathing exercises and telling when to push.
Having a natural birth can be very empowering to a pregnant person. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to be able to look back and say ‘I did that by myself, without an epidural,’ although getting an epidural is certainly not something to be ashamed of. If you’re capable of doing it, natural childbirth can give a sense of pride like no other.
10 Use Breathing Exercises
Before labor, it’s doubtless that you spent hours and hours with your partner at different yoga studios and birth classes and medical advisors to talk about what to do when the moment came. You probably practiced breathing exercises in public, made your partner make strange faces with you in front of strangers as you breathed like gorillas for days on end in preparation for this big activity. It was probably a lot of work and you want to see the results of that when the day comes along.
If you do natural childbirth, the chances are, you’ll be alert enough to actually do these breathing exercises. Not only will all the work not be in vain, but you’ll reap all the benefits that come with doing the breathing exercises, too. You’ll have a better sense of self and a good idea of what’s going on around you, thanks to your breathing exercises and natural childbirth.
9 Faster Recovery Time
Epidurals and C-sections often have really nasty recovery rates. C-sections, in particular, take ages to recover from because your body is not only recovering from the anesthesia, but it is also recovering from having the baby, from the surgical wound that was formed, and from the stitching of the wound back into places after the birthing happened. To avoid that, you can try a natural birth, which has a much faster turnaround time.
The idea is that you get on your feet faster. While recovery will still take a few days after a natural birth, there will be less pain and less time off than with a C-section, which can require anywhere from a few weeks to a full month of recovery. It’s worth looking into if you want something that will be less painful in the long run instead of just immediate satisfaction.
8 Faster Labor
Tying into our last idea that faster recovery time makes for a better experience for a pregnant person in the process of giving birth, having a natural birth as opposed to an epidural will also make for a faster birthing process or labor process. Epidurals numb pain, sure, but they also make it harder for the pregnant person to respond while the process is happening. As a result, it can take longer for the baby to be born.
This might not sound like a big deal, but consider it in the long run. If the labor process goes faster, then it will be over quicker and you will get to look forward to the benefits of not having all the recovery time as we discussed earlier. A faster labor will mean less exhaustion for new parents and more time to recover and even then the recovery will be less than with a C-section or an epidural.
7 Safer for Baby
An epidural can be less painful for a pregnant person who doesn’t want to deal with all the pain and hard work that comes along with giving birth. However, having a natural birth can actually be safer for the baby as well as the pregnant person. In fact, it’s safer for the baby specifically because it’s safer for the pregnant person and because of the reasons we’ve been talking about in this article all combined into one overall message: safety.
Less chance of medical intervention, as we discussed earlier, is a perk for a natural birth. However, it’s not only more convenient but less likely that the baby will be hurt if there’s no instruments or chemicals around it. While epidurals and C-sections are becoming safer and safer, why not go without altogether if that’s something that you feel you can do?
6 Decreased Risk of Adult Illness
New studies have come out showing that epidurals and C-sections can lessen the immune system. This makes sense when you put it in perspective. A pregnant person, during labor, is put through intense stress and exhaustion that lasts for ages and lowers the immune system as the body puts all of that energy into taking care of the vagina, hip bones, and other things that have been stretched, moved, or displaced. There’s simply not as much attention being paid to your immune system at this time.
One of the consequences of an epidural or C-section is that your immune system will be down longer, meaning you’ve got a bigger opening to being sick. In addition, these procedures have to take place in a hospital where you’ll be exposed to a lot more germs than you would be at home or in a different environment. It’s something to consider when deciding how to give birth.
5 Better Brain Development
Whatever you put into your body, you put into the body of your baby. This is something that pregnant people learn early on when they talk about eating, taking medications, and knowing not to smoke and drink. But it also carries on to the labor process. The anesthesia you take is also going into your baby. While not all of them are necessarily harmful, they aren’t necessarily good either, and can have some slowing effects on development in the brain.
Babies who were birthed in a natural process as opposed to babies born under the influence of anesthetics in either a C-section or epidural tend to have better brain development in the early stages of life. This is something we’ll go more in-depth into later, but it’s important to note that overall, it can be helpful to your child to have a natural birth.
4 Better Fine Motor Skills
We discussed that babies birthed in a natural process as opposed to babies born via C-section or epidural—or really anything involving anesthetic—can have a better brain development pattern in the early stages of life. As it turns out, this specifically lends itself to better development of fine motor skills—that is, skills like gripping, biting, and precise movement with the hands and feet. The brain development that improves because of a natural birth is even more so enhanced in fine motor skills.
In addition to better fine motor skills, babies who have a natural birth also have better social skills and better development in social skills from a much earlier age, giving them an advantage. Social skills and their development are very important to babies, and any edge you can give your baby is an edge worth taking.
3 Less Expensive
Hospitals are incredibly expensive in the US. Expenses are charged via item and not in a package deal, so pregnant people pay for each separate thing that happens to them in the hospital. This makes it expensive. Hiring a midwife to assist in delivery at home can be thousands of dollars less and make for a much less expensive time. That’s money that can go to the baby when it has exited and come into the world.
However, it is worth noting that not everyone can afford to stay home. Sometimes there are complications that require proper medical attention, and that’s fine. But even at a hospital, it’s possible to opt out of an epidural and C-section, procedures that cost more than just a birth on its own. It’s worth investigating all options and reaping the financial benefits of hiring a midwife if it’s something you feel safe and comfortable doing.
2 Partner Involvement in Process
If this is applicable to you, you’ll understand why this step was included in the article. Your partner, ideally the person who has been helping you through this process and sitting through all those aforementioned instructional sessions and helping you get to the hospital and finally sitting with you as the baby is about to enter the world, will have a better ability to help you if you’re having a natural birth.
This is because of the alertness we talked about earlier. With a medicated birth, a pregnant person might find it more difficult to listen to what a partner is trying to tell them. With a natural birth, the partner can be involved, help in moving around to relieve pressure and pain, talk to the pregnant person during the process, and be more involved immediately after as well.
1 More Likely to Do it Again
Having a natural birth might sound painful, and in all honesty, it is. There’s a lot more pain, and a lot more moving around. Without a C-section, the process might take hours or even days, and the pregnant person will feel without a doubt incredibly exhausted after the fact and might not even be terribly enthused to see the baby and just want a nap.
However, despite all of this, most mothers who give birth naturally say that they would do it again, no questions asked. It’s an incredibly painful process, sure, but it’s also an incredibly unique one, and something that you’ll only experience a handful of times as you bring a new life into the world. When considering your options, take this into consideration as you debate whether to have a natural birth or not.