Increasing Your Chance of Natural Childbirth

Guest post by Jenny of the Southern Institute for Domestic Arts
Natural childbirth. Say those words to the average person on the street and watch their faces draw back in horror.  The average person cannot imagine why anyone would want to give birth without drugs, but you are not the average person.  You realize that you are capable of doing what women have been doing for thousands of years, giving birth naturally.  Did you know that there are things that you can do to help you realize your desire to have a beautiful natural birth?

1. Take a natural childbirth class. I cannot stress enough how important I believe this is, and not just because I teach childbirth preparation classes!  I believe this because I was once an expecting mom who was exploring her birth options.  After doing my own research, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to have a natural birth.  I knew that I would need to prepare for that, so I took classes.  As a teacher, I firmly believe that knowledge is the greatest gift that an expecting mother can give herself.  The best choices are informed choices.  I can’t tell you how many women I have spoken with that tell me that they definitely want to have an epidural.  After talking with them more, and talking about the possible side effects of drugs, both epidurals and pitocin, I am always surprised at how little they know.  Women are not informed by their obstetricians and certainly are rarely encouraged to have a natural birth.  If, after learning of the pros and cons of birth interventions, a woman still wants to have an epidural, then I can rest in the fact that I have given her the opportunity to make an informed decision.

When you take a natural childbirth class, you know what to expect.  You know what your body is doing and why, and this helps to control the fears that most women have about labor and birth.

2. Decide that you really want to have a natural birth and believe that you can do it!

Expecting mother: “I’d really want to try to have a natural birth.”
Me: “That’s great! Are you preparing for a natural birth?”
Expecting mother: “No, we’re just going to see how it goes.”

Yeah… not gonna happen, most likely.  Natural childbirth is a bit like a marathon.  Again, preparation is key, as is determination!  I remember talking with my dad about the upcoming natural birth of my first child and him saying something like, “That’s great, but you know, when you decide that you want the drugs…”.  He just didn’t get it.  I had decided on a natural birth!  You really can’t be wishy-washy about it.  Either you want to have one or you don’t.  If you go into labor riding the fence, you will take the drugs.  A natural birth is an empowering thing.  Women are made to give birth naturally.  YOU were made to give birth naturally!  Don’t sell yourself short!
3. Choose your health care provider wisely. There are options when it comes to your birth… obstetrician or midwife?  Hospital, birthing center, or home.  As soon as you decide on a natural birth you would do well to have a conversation with your doctor.  My births were attended by an obstetrician who was very supportive of my decision to birth naturally, and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.  I had actually changed providers after learning that I was pregnant, on the advice of a friend, who referred me to my obstetrician.  The first doctor that I visited, I learned, had about a 25% c-section rate!  That was all I needed to hear.  He was not the OB for me, although he was a very nice man.

You also need to realize that choosing a medical doctor means choosing a hospital birth.  If you would rather not give birth in a hospital, then find out who the midwives are in your area and check out any local birthing centers that are available.  One of our local hospitals has midwives on staff, which a lot of women that I teach take advantage of.

4. Hire a doula. Best decision EVER! What is a doula?  A doula is a woman who supports the laboring mother.  Usually she has personal experience with natural birth.  She attends the labor and serves the mother in any way necessary, coaching, helping the mother to focus and reminding her of her decision, cheering her on, helping her with comfort measures, breathing with her, and so much more.  A doula is not a doctor or a midwife, she cannot deliver the baby.  She is there only in a supporting role.  Most insurance companies don’t cover a doula’s services, ours didn’t.  But let me tell you that having a doula was worth every penny that we paid out of pocket.  I used the same doula for all three of my childrens’ births.  She holds a special spot in my heart and always will.  I highly encourage every woman that I meet with to have a doula at the birth if possible.  Having a doula will increase your chance of having the natural birth that you desire and statistically decreases your chances of having a c-section and other interventions.

5. Labor at home for as long as possible. A home birth obviously greatly increases your chances of having a natural birth.  We know that a calming and relaxed atmosphere helps labor to progress.  Your home is much more relaxing then a sterile hospital.  At home you have the freedom to move as you please, eat as you please, and drink as you please.  You have the control.  If you will be giving birth in a hospital a doula really helps with this one.  Most doulas will come to your home when labor starts and can help you to decide when it is time to head to the hospital.  With all three of my births I was well into the active stage of labor before being admitted to the hospital (5-7 cm dilated).  Why labor at home as long as possible?  That’s easy.  When you are in a hospital it is assumed that you will have an epidural, after all, around 80% of women do.  You will be asked time and time again if you are sure you want to decline the epidural.  You may be encouraged to have the epidural.  The further along you are when you get there the better.

A lot of women don’t think that they can have a natural birth.  Some would never even consider it.  Personally, I would not have had it any other way, and have never spoken with a woman who has given birth naturally and regretted it.

(If you are in the Nashville area and are looking for natural childbirth classes, I would love to help!  Contact me at thesoutherninstitute at yahoo dot com.)

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.





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This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.


  1. What a great post! I cannot count how many times I was looked at funny, made fun of, or told I didn’t get any special award for passing on the drugs. There were countless times I wanted to respond with: “Well you don’t either for getting an epidural. Do you feel better about yourself now?” But I didn’t, and it was only by God’s grace. I’m naturally one who likes to defend myself.

    But I digress.

    I had a natural birth with my son, and I don’t regret it a bit. However, there is no way I could have just “winged it.” Taking the Bradley Class and learning about what my body was doing in each stage helped me to stay focused. Without it, I probably would have been terrified. The classes were also incredibly helpful for my husband. He was petrified of the idea of childbirth, but by the time we arrived on our son’s birth day, he was ready to catch our boy when he came out. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to due to both of us needing oxygen, but it was amazing to watch my husband transform during the whole process.

    So all of that to say, “Get educated!” With education, you CAN DO natural childbirth! 🙂

  2. what a great post!! i think education makes such a huge difference! knowing the effects that the drugs can have plus knowing that a woman’s body was created to give birth is huge! one of the best things i ever did was to choose having a natural birth. i learned so much about my body!! i would totally agree it has to be a decision you make ahead of time. because even if you decide on a natural birth, the temptation to get drugs once you’re at the hospital is huge. knowing what you want before you go in makes it much easier to stick with it. plus, if the nurses know that what you want, they’ll help and encourage you to stay the course. at least mine did. that’s what the doula would be there for too. my husband was all the doula i wanted or needed. but i know several of my friends who loved theirs and would never not have one.

    with my births i had my first 2 completely without drugs. my second i had at home. the third was induced with pitocin because i was 10 days over. but, other than a shot of nubane towards the end i didn’t have any other drugs with him.

    natural birth is not easy, but it’s more than possible!!

  3. I was pleased to have two natural child births, although they were in the hospital. I would have preferred a birthing center, but the closest one is still too far away:( I was blessed to have a local midwife group (part of an OB group in my town), that really did a great job! They have established their own protocol and birthing procedure at the hospital and the nurses know not to do certain things like hooking up IVs or doing random internal exams when a MW is attending. I had a great experience both times! I tried to hire a doula for the last one, but it didn’t work out… maybe next time!

  4. I agree with so much of this. I have had 2 natural births and I intend to give birth naturally again this fall. My family was a bunch of drugs believers. They couldn’t imagine why or how I would have a natural birth. When I was getting closer to my due date, I had to tell them to keep their doubts to themselves. You have to prepare yourself mentally. I agree completely that you can’t say you’re going to “try” to have a natural birth. Obviously, you also can’t view yourself as a complete failure if you end up needing something for your pain. But you have to tell yourself that you will, you CAN get through it without.
    The only thing I did differently was I didn’t hire a doula. I have a very supportive husband, and I went through my plan with him of all the things I would do to help myself relax– relaxing is the key. Try flexing your bicep and then giving it a pinch compared to pinching it when relaxed. He was there to talk me through things and shift anything around for me. He gave me hand massages with good smelling lotions. We were prepared!

    Natural birth is SO wonderful. When my babies were born, I felt like I had just run a marathon. I had done something amazing! I was amazing! It was so exhilarating! I felt like shouting for joy.

  5. Oh, and if you have a hospital birth (both of mine were in the hospital), the first thing you tell them: “Do NOT ask me about my pain!” If you’re constantly having to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, how will you keep from focusing on it? Don’t let anyone ask you about your pain. You can let them know if you need help.

    • @Jocelyn, Very good point, Jocelyn! They do tend to do that. Talk about a distraction! I don’t know if I can fault them though, a woman who DOESN”T want meds is so rare… I think it takes them a bit by surprise.

  6. I love this!!!

    1) I actually did not have the option to take a natural childbirth class. There were none available in my area. I took a regular childbirth class when I was pregnant with my first, and after 3 sessions, I decided it was a waste of my time. I wasn’t planning a natural birth with her, but they talked about coping with epidurals and C-sections and it was all stuff I already knew. I ended up with a C-section with my first. I didn’t take one with my second either though (I was planning a natural VBAC in a different hospital 45 minutes away, with midwives this time!), and I don’t regret not taking one. I did so much reading and researching, I sailed through labor and delivery like it was no big deal, even without the class.

    2) Yes!!! I tell people all the time, you are either going to have a natural birth or you aren’t. When I had my VBAC, I told people I was having a VBAC. My mom said things like “Well, you don’t know that, things might not end the way you’d like……” and it was very discouraging, but I told her that I was GOING to have a VBAC. Mindset is everything!

    3) For my second, I switched providers at 28 weeks. My OB just wasn’t that supportive of my VBAC (she said she’d humor me, but she didn’t want me to get my hopes up), so I switched to a group of midwives 45 minutes away, and it was worth the drive, even in labor!

    4) AGREE! I had a doula for my second birth, and just knowing I had support (the rest of my family didn’t support me) was a huge help! If I ever give birth in a hospital again (I’m having a homebirth this time), I WILL have a doula, even if it’s just to ward off hospital staff!

    5) YES! My biggest mistake with my first was going to the hospital at the first contraction, and it ended in a C-section (which will haunt me for the rest of my life–or at least the rest of my childbearing years). The best thing I did with my second was go in as soon as I felt like I had to. I got to the hospital dilated to a 9….. and the nurses still asked what I had in mind for pain relief!! Unbelievable. But I had the mindset that drugs weren’t an option, even though I was so far into labor, and I told them I was hoping to get in the tub for a bit for pain relief.

    I do have one friend that regretted her natural birth. She had an epidural with her first and a natural birth with her second, and with her third there was no question she would have an epidural because the experience was so much better for her. Unfortunately, I don’t think she knows any of the risks of those interventions, as is usually the case.

    But I think natural birth rocks!!

  7. wonderful, wonderful, words jenny! we are preparing for our second natural home birth, after an amazing experience with our first, 2 1/2 years ago. i often hear, “wow… good for you!” after telling someone i had my son naturally… and it strikes me as a little odd. i didn’t do it for the praise, or the challenge… it simply is what our bodies, as women, are made to do. and like you said, once you make the decision to do it, you can do it!

    thanks for spreading the word on what should be the norm… it’s people like you who bring invaluable knowledge to so many moms to be!

  8. Thanks Jenny! This is a great post for all the moms out there who would like to give birth naturally!

  9. what a great educational and inspiring post. thank you Jenny!

  10. Yeah for natural birth! My first was born in a hospital (in CO) but attended by a midwife who encouraged natural childbirth — she was great, didn’t even do anything during the delivery except catch! My second was supposed to be born in the hospital attended by a family practice doctor who fully supported natural childbirth…but he came too fast — he was born at home! Check out his birth story:
    I’m convinced that the exercising I did while pregnant with him (and that it was a second birth) made the labor and birth sooo much easier!

    • @Beth @ Living Simply, Yes, Beth, exercise is such an important part of a healthy pregnancy! I think a lot of women think pregnancy gives them a free pass to be lazy, but it’s a great time to get in shape, as long as it’s done safely. I exercised during all three of my pregnancies and know that it played a big part in my quick recoveries.