Benefits of Natural Birth

Natural BirthFirst, and foremost, we want to be clear that natural birth is the gold standard by which all outcomes should be evaluated.  Therefore, asking about the “benefits of natural birth” is more properly stated as asking about the “dangers of intervention in the natural birth process.”  However, since intervention has become the standard of care in American hospitals, and natural birth is uncommon today, we speak of the “benefits of natural birth” encouraging women to take the path less commonly traveled today.  With this in mind, the benefits of natural birth include:

Reduced risk of cesarean, forceps, and vacuum extraction – Freedom of movement throughout labor help the mother to intuitively use positions that encourage her baby to move to an optimal position for birth.  A woman’s best chance for a vaginal birth happens when she goes into labor on her own.  Inductions can be extremely painful, causing the woman to be more likely to choose an epidural for pain relief.  Epidurals dull the sensations of labor, and  restrict movement.  In a natural birth, the mother is in tune with what is happening with her body, she is able to push more effectively than if she has an epidural.  This reduces the risk of vacuum extraction, forceps, or cesarean birth due to lack of effective pushing.

Reduced risk of episiotomy or third/fourth degree tears – Because the mother is able to feel the sensation of the baby moving through her pelvis and soft tissues, she is able to know when to push and when to slow down the pushing.  This important feedback mechanism helps the woman  avoid the deeper tears of the rectal sphincter (third degree tear) or the rectal mucosa (fourth degree tear).  Use of forceps and vacuum extraction usually involves episiotomy, which always goes through muscle.  Whereas, most women who give birth naturally do not tear, or they have small tears that involve only the skin (first degree), or they have small tears of muscle and perineum (second degree) that heal nicely with a few stitches.

Avoidance of side effects of anesthesia - Epidurals can cause nasty side effects. Epidural anesthesia is an attractive option for pain relief, but it is not without risks.  Common side effects include increased need for cesarean section, forceps, and vacuum extraction; severe headache (1-10%) that can last up to several weeks after the birth; reduction in blood pressure that can reduce blood flow to the baby from the placenta and cause the baby to go into distress, necessitating emergency c-section; postpartum urinary tract infection and urinary dysfunction (loss of bladder control that can last anywhere from days to months after the birth); fever (about 15%) during labor that can cause your provider to believe the baby might have an infection and will require a full septic workup (LAB tests that require your baby stay in the hospital for days or weeks).; incomplete pain relief (up to 10% of the time); increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage; postpartum back pain that can last anywhere from days to years after the birth.  Those are the more common side effects.  Less likely are things like convulsions, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrest, severe allergic reaction to the medication, and death. (Source:

Faster postpartum recovery – Because the woman is not recovering from major abdominal surgery and/or the side effects from epidural anesthesia, she has a faster recovery time.  

Better breastfeeding – Babies of medicated mothers are less alert and have more difficulty initiating breastfeeding than babies born naturally.  Naturally born babies are more likely to have immediate skin-to-skin contact, which also helps to facilitate breastfeeding.

NOVA Natural Birth Center
4200A Technology Court ♦ Chantilly, VA 20151
Phone: 703-357-3808 ♦ Fax: 888-770-0243

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