Opting for a Natural Birth

Whether you are a new mom-to-be or a seasoned pro, labor and birth can be somewhat unpredictable. For those who are considering a low intervention birth, here is some information to help guide you in your decision.
What is low intervention labor and delivery?
In this experience, the focus is on alleviating labor pain using alternate methods other than pain medication. When epidural anesthesia is not used, the laboring woman can walk and move around and use methods other than medication to handle labor pain. “Low intervention birth” is also sometimes called “natural birth” or “un-medicated birth.”  
What are some of the features of the low intervention labor and delivery process?
During a low intervention labor, the woman is encouraged to move around. This is important as movement assists with the progression of labor and can help reduce labor pain.  Options such as sitting on a birth ball, rocking in a rocking chair, slow dancing in labor with your partner or walking are all encouraged and helpful. If continuous fetal monitoring of the baby’s heart rate is recommended, there are methods of wireless monitoring available so that the laboring mother can still have freedom of movement.  Wireless monitors are waterproof so can even be worn while laboring in a shower.
Are there ways to ensure a low intervention birth?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict exactly what may happen during your labor and delivery.  The desire for low intervention birth should be discussed at prenatal appointments and reviewed with everyone who will be at the birth – the woman’s partner, her doctor or midwife, a doula or other birth support person and the Labor & Delivery nurses when she arrives at the hospital. Making sure that everyone is aware of the plan is one of the most important elements to achieving a low intervention birth experience. While pregnant, a woman and her partner should read, watch videos and take a class about low intervention birth positions and breathing/relaxation techniques. It’s also a good idea to write down and print out her set of “Birth Preferences” so it’s ready to share with all who will be at the birth.  
But even with all of the preparation in the world, no one knows exactly how a birth will progress. It’s important, above all, to remain flexible and remember that the most important priority is the health of the mother and the baby. At John Muir Health, we have an open dialogue with the families who choose to give birth with us, so we can understand their wishes and do our best to help everyone achieve the birth experience they desire.
For more information, visit johnmuirhealth.com/pregnancy.
Tara Stern recently celebrated her 20th year as a registered nurse. A mother of three, she is a labor and delivery nurse at John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Medical Center.

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