Natural childbirth is vaginal labor and delivery with limited to no medical intervention; it can involve a variety of choices, from the doctor you choose to the pain relief you use. Here are the most common options usually involved in a natural birth:
Delivering at a birthing center or at home rather than in a hospital (although you can definitely request to have a drug-free birth in a hospital)
Working with a doula, midwife or an OB-GYN who has stated a preference for using minimal interventions (talk to your practitioner and ask her if and how often she’s assisted in natural births, or look for OB-GYNs who work at birthing centers or come recommended by a friend who had a natural birth)
Instead of lying on your back in bed, opting for alternative delivery positions including squatting, all fours (hands and knees), kneeling, or leaning against something (a chair or your partner)
Giving birth in a tub of warm water
Alternative drug-free methods including hydrotherapy, hypnosis, massage, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises and acupressure.
Delivering baby immediately to your stomach for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding (instead of taking her away to be assessed and weighed first).
Avoiding routine IV, labor induction, episiotomy (which, fortunately, is rarely used these days anyway), continuous fetal monitoring, assisted delivery with forceps, vacuum extractionand cesarean section (unless one of these medical interventions is deemed medically necessary as a last resort.
A water birth is when you spend at least part of your labor or delivery (or both) in a birthing pool filled with warm water.
Although water birth is generally accepted among midwives, it’s not widely practiced by doctors
— likely in part because no scientific studies have confirmed the benefits during the second stage of active delivery, when the baby is pushed out. What’s more, actually delivering in water can put your baby at risk for rare but dangerous conditions.
A home birth in developed countries is an attended or an unattended childbirth in a non-clinical setting, typically using methods, that takes place in a residence rather than in a hospital or a birth centre, and usually attended by a midwife or lay attendant with experience in managing home births. Home birth was, until the advent of modern medicine, the de facto method of delivery. Since the beginning of the 20th century, home birth rates have drastically fallen in most developed countries, generally to less than 1% of all births. Infant and mother mortality rates have also dropped drastically over the same time period.
*This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.