5 Reasons To Learn Natural Childbirth Techniques (Even If You Plan To Use An Epidural)
By Jennifer Vanderlaan
If you know you are planning to use an epidural to help you manage pain during childbirth, you may not be thinking about natural childbirth techniques. In contrast with an epidural which almost always provides good pain relief with no effort from the mother, natural childbirth techniques take time to learn, time to practice and you don’t know which ones will help you most until your labor begins. But as is so often true in life, there is great value in the things you have to work harder for.
- Your labor may move faster than you expect – the typical labor may start slow, and slowly build to active labor, but not all do. About 2% of women experience a precipitate labor, one in which the early stages pass so easily they are unnoticed and the mother suddenly finds herself dealing with a fast active labor. If your labor starts fast, the natural childbirth techniques you learn will not only keep you comfortable, but also help you stay calm and as relaxed as possible until you get to your birth place.
You could have pain relief in as fast as 20 minutes if everything was already set up and the staff ready, or you could be waiting for another woman to have an epidural administered first, or waiting for an anesthesiologist to finish assisting a cesarean surgery or come to the hospital. In some smaller hospitals, epidurals are not available “after hours,” the staff relying instead on simpler methods of pain relief which are not as effective. Natural childbirth techniques will be your only choice for pain management until things are ready for an epidural to be administered, and can be helpful if you receive a less effective pain medication.
Ms. Goer also reports that first time mothers with an epidural are more likely to have a cesarean surgery for failure to progress. One study showed women with a slow labor who had an epidural were five times more likely to have a cesarean surgery than women with a slow labor who did not have an epidural. Delaying an epidural gives you the best chances of getting your baby into a good position and labor progressing normally.
Using natural childbirth techniques can give you the ability to manage pain and discomfort well into active labor. You may find you labor so well with them, you do not need to add the risks of medications. This can mean a faster recovery from the birth, since your body does not have to spend time removing the medication.
Many women find the coping mechanisms they develop using natural childbirth techniques in labor increase their self confidence which helps them manage other parts of their lives. Other women express that even though labor hurt, they were glad they did it because it challenged them in new ways and showed just how strong they were. There is no link to satisfaction with labor and the use of pain medication, which means you are no more likely to look back at labor favorably whether you use medications or not.
Natural childbirth techniques are useful in unexpected labor situations, when you can’t get what you want and when things are not going quite the way you planned. Knowing the medications have risks, and there are benefits to using natural childbirth techniques beyond labor, it can make a lot of sense to try for a natural childbirth with the understanding an epidural is available if you decide you want it.
Jennifer Vanderlaan is a childbirth birth educator and doula living in upstate New York. She teaches women natural childbirth techniques at http://www.birthingnaturally.net