Natural childbirth

Childbirth is a natural process. Medical intervention has its place in emergency obstetrics, however not every birth is a medical emergency. Planning for natural childbirth is an important step towards health promotion for both mother and baby. Emotionally, natural childbirth may be an empowering experience for women. Decreasing fear around childbirth by actively promoting education and wellness reduces unnecessary medical interventions and birth traumas. A woman’s body has all the chemicals and hormones she needs to deliver a baby under normal conditions. Furthermore, many techniques and therapeutics can be attempted first before medical intervention, in the event that it is necessary. Un-interrupted childbirth is possible with education, gentle intervention, and a supportive environment.

A number of complimentary and alternative therapies are used to promote natural childbirth. Such therapies include hypnobirthing, homeopathy, acupuncture and acupressure, and phytotherapy.

Psychoprophylaxis, or hypnobirthing, a psychological method for increasing the likely of natural childbirth, has been shown to significantly reduce the chance of emergency cesarian section[1].

The lack of maternal changes of position during labor can contribute to dystocia (difficult labor) and increased cesarean sections due to failure to progress and descend[2]. Routine interventions such as induction, fetal monitoring, epidural anesthesia, and increased maternal obesity predispose women during labor to remain stationary.

The most common complimentary and alternative methods used during pregnancy and delivery are homeopathy, acupuncture, and phytotherapy[3]. While these practices are not yet supported by clinical research, compliance with CAM therapies is very high during pregnancy[4]. There appears to be few adverse consequences, and it could be related to the level of education and training of physicians and practitioners of CAM that determines the rate of reported adverse effects.

[1] Bergström M, Kieler H, Waldenström U. Psychoprophylaxis during labor: associations with labor-related outcomes and experience of childbirth. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2010 Mar 15.

[2] Zwelling E. Overcoming the challenges: maternal movement and positioning to facilitate labor progress. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2010 Mar-Apr;35(2):72-8;quiz 79-80

[3] Kalder M, Knoblauch K, Hrgovic I, Münstedt K. Use of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy and delivery. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2010 Feb 23

[4] Münstedt K, Brenken A, Kalder M. Clinical indications and perceived effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine in departments of obstetrics in Germany: a questionnaire study. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2009 Sep;146(1):50-4


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