In today's fast-paced, feel-no-pain society, women who've decided on natural birth have most likely done their research. For some women, this decision fits into an already health-conscious lifestyle, but for others, natural childbirth is not about pain, it is about the enjoyment of the childbirth process and having a sense of control. Men may be left with numerous questions as to what a natural birth entails and just how much of the experience will be their responsibility.
In a birth center or home birth situation, a natural birth usually includes laboring and birthing without pain medications or other routine interventions, such as monitoring and IV. Before your child's birth, review birth plans with your partner so that you are in agreement of what natural will mean.
Going Au Naturale
If natural birth has never been a topic of discussion during your pregnancy, the dad-to-be may have an initial reaction of shock or fear. Fear that perhaps the pain will be too intense for his loved one or fear that medical help will be needed and the choice for a natural birth will not even be an option.
Convinced that birth is unnatural and that pain is unnecessary, some men fear going against the perceived norm in our culture, which is a medicated, medical delivery. He may believe that a natural birth entails risk and may not even be possible. America's rate of C-sections—wherein one in four women undergo surgery—contributes to this growing doubt.
The truth is that childbirth is a natural, biological event for most women. Very few conditions rule out natural birth, such as chronic disease in the mother or fetus, and on occasion multiple pregnancies. The pain and work of childbirth is not the pain of injury or disease, it is a healthy pain with a very definite purpose.
For first-time parents Pat and Sue, natural birth meant planning a home birth with a midwife. Pat recalls, "Initially, when Sue told me she wanted a home birth, my main fear was of complications. It seemed a good percentage of the mothers I knew had a C-section for one reason or another. After researching and going to our birthing classes, I learned the C-section rate for home births was much lower than at a hospital, and that hospital C-sections were often done more for doctor convenience and hospital protocol. Once that fear was addressed, the added advantage of having the birth on our own terms, drug-free, and in the place of our choosing made the decision very easy."