What even is a ''natural'' birth?
Updated: Jul 29
Before being pregnant I'd never considered the ''type'' of labour that I'd like to have. You just don't think about it. But then, as soon as it's you turn to grow a baby, it becomes a very important subject to you and what seems to be everyone else too.
I couldn't tell you the amount of times I was told that I shouldn't set my hopes too high on a natural birth, ''you'll just be disappointed''. Ironically, this was usually men who voiced such concerns. It was particularly apparent when I decided on a home birth. Being my first baby many were quite surprised and worried. To me it just seemed the obvious choice: I'm healthy, my baby is healthy, no apparent special circumstances that could make anything complicated more likely. So why leave the place I feel the most safe in to go somewhere I don't know, brightly lit and noisy, busy and full of people I don't know, and full of sick people? So I didn't, I stayed home. And I'm so glad I did.
It was the right choice for me, at that time and with the support I had. It's not the right choice for everyone, and that's the thing, you've gotta do what you gotta do. Wherever you have your baby, it should feel right to you. If you plan a birth centre birth but end up in hospital because you needed extra assistance, then that's the right place for you. Even if it wasn't your first choice.
But labouring and birthing your baby anywhere you don't feel comfortable and safe is not ok. You have the right to decide where this little being you've made is born. Yes it's important to take into account what your birth partner feels but utlimately, it's your choice.
If they have an opinion based on genuine concern, then please do listen to them. If their opinion is based on fear or what ''Jean from work'' said, well maybe they should start trusting your ability to make your own decisions.
After all, us mamas are the ones growing these babies, we've made every possible effort to keep them healthy throughout pregnancy, we're not about to put us or them in peril now it's time to birth them. So if you want that home birth, if it feels right to you and your midwife is on board, do it. If you feel like the hospital is the right place for you but your family is used to having their babies at home, then remind them this is your family, and your choice.
Now, natural births. What is it and can you have one?
A natural birth is what we commonly refer to when we talk about a vaginal non-medicated birth. Most people think of a natural birth as a home birth and often a water birth.
If you've done a course with me, you'll know I think this is bullcrap. Why? Because c-sections, epidurals, medication and any other intervention do not mean you a giving birth unnaturally. Why does our language care so little about how it makes us feel? If your baby is born through your belly, it's not any less natural than being born through your vagina. Mother Nature finds a way, and that's natural. Telling a woman her labour and birth were unnatural is disrespectful, rude and wrong.
You may have your baby at home AND have a shot of pethidine (if you got it prescribed before hand), AND scream your head off, and have load of gas and air. You may have your baby in the obstetric unit and have the smoothest, calmest, drugless birth. You may start your labour in the birth centre but then you transfer to the hospital for an unplanned c-section. All these births are natural. YOU are birthing your baby. Nobody else is. And that makes them natural.
So yes, you can have a natural birth.
And actually, what makes some births less natural is not about what you do or don't do. It's about what feels natural to you. When you do things that don't feel right, or you wouldn't have chosen, then it's not going to feel very natural, because it's been imposed on you, or you've felt pressured. So mama, listen closely to what your inner guidance is telling you. What your baby is telling you. These two voices are the most important of all. Once you've checked into them, listen to what your birth partner and your midwives say. And then, and only then, can you truly make choices that are right for you.
How to check in with your body and baby:
Lie down, take a few long breaths in and out.
Scan over every part of your body and notice how you feel. Are you holding any tension anywhere? If so let it go.
Put your hand on your heart and one on your belly. Repeat this to yourself: "I am listening, I hear you, I feel you". Once you feel you've done this enough, just be here for a while. You may have an answer to a question you've been asking yourself straight away, you may not.
Repeat this until you feel confident that your inner wisdom has made itself heard. It won't be anything spooky, you wpn't be visited by a fairy (if you are please tell me), you'll just know. Your thoughts will be clearer, and you'll feel it deep inside your gut.
Do this even if you're not trying to make a decision about anything, it's a great way to strengthen the mind-body-heart connection and will make your labour easier and calmer.
Happy connecting mamas xxx