During labor and delivery, nearly every woman will be given a choice of available pain medications. If she chooses to skip these medications, she is choosing to have, what is called, natural childbirth. While some women may believe natural childbirth is safer for her baby, there can be some common side effects she did not plan on when making her decision to skip pain medication.
Benefits of natural childbirth
Leaving pain medication behind during labor and delivery is a very personal choice. Some women choose natural childbirth over a medicated delivery for the safety of the baby or because they simply want to experience natural childbirth. There is no doubt that no medication is safer than any approved medication, as long as the woman practices good breathing techniques. If breathing techniques are not used as part of the natural childbirth pain management plan, going natural could hold higher risks than choosing pain medication.
Cons of natural childbirth
The most prominent negative of natural childbirth is the woman's inability to concentrate on the task at hand. When the final stage of labor begins, the woman needs to be strong and focused on pushing the baby through the birth canal. If natural pain management for hours before active labor has left her exhausted, she may not have the strength to push the baby through the birth canal. This could lead to an assisted birth via forceps or vacuum, which hold a higher side effect risk than some pain management options.
Breathing is also important during natural childbirth. If mom does not breathe effectively, she can inhibit oxygen intake and flow to the baby. This is especially important during the pushing phase of childbirth. Breathing is required to oxygenate the blood and if the woman holds her breath to combat pain, she will be limiting the oxygen passed to the baby.
Natural childbirth is a choice that women need to prepare for and educate themselves about thoroughly. Birthing classes are a great start, but the woman will also need to perform daily Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor for pushing. Breathing techniques and alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture can also help during childbirth.