A natural birth simply means going through labour and birth without pain relief medications and without unnecessary medical interventions. Of course, in planning a birth one has to remain open minded, but in a healthy low-risk pregnancy, it is possible to plan for a birth without drugs or medical interventions. Women who have natural births tend to be more satisfied with their childbirth experience, they often bond with their babies more easily and quickly, and they are more likely to breastfeed successfully.[1] And it seems that the miracle of the hormonal physiology of labour is such a subtle and intricate process, that it would best function unimpeded by medical intervention and procedures.[2], [3]

Avoiding pain medication also lessens chances of a caesarean birth and avoids a whole range of possible side effects both for the mother and the baby. Without drugs, the mother is able to feel the best positioning for labour and she is able to respond to changes she feels. She is often able push the baby out better and faster, able to be more present for the birth, and the baby is less likely to be drowsy after the delivery. Often recovery after the birth is faster.[4]

In avoiding induction, the mother is able to move freely during labour, changing position in response to what she is feeling, whereas in induced labour, the mother is attached to a foetal monitor or an IV. Movement such as walking, pacing, or squatting is an important part of natural pain relief and often helps speed the process of labour. The pain of natural labour is often less painful than when a woman's labour is medically induced, and there is less likelihood of having a caesarean birth or medical complications. The experience of an induced labour is also more intense for the baby.[6]

Another advantage in choosing a natural birth is that you can have a midwife. Studies have shown great advantages in women having a supported birth, preferably with a midwife or a doula rather than hospital staff.[7]

I highly recommend interviewing prospective caregivers and asking their attitude towards different screening tests during pregnancy, and their attitude towards natural birth. Your relationship and the support you feel from your caregiver can play a very important role for you and your baby.


Prenatal care and tests

Preparation for labour

How to make decisions

Recommended Reading - Pregnancy and Birth


Giving Birth at Home & Birthing Naturally

also by Sarah Buckley:

Ecstatic Birth - The Hormonal Blueprint of Labour 


[1] Chait, Jennifer and Holly Swanson. Advantages of Natural Childbirth. Love To Know researched July 2009 <> 

[2] Buckley, Sarah J.. Ecstatic Birth: The Hormonal Blueprint of Labor. Mothering Magazine, Issue 111, March/April 2002, researched August 2009 <>

[3] Nathanielsz, Peter W., M.D., Ph.D. Life Before Birth and A Time to be Born. Promethean Press, Ithica, New York, 1992, Chapter 11 and 12

[4] Chait

[5] Buckley, Sarah J. MD. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. Celestial Arts, New York 2009 Page 117

[6] Winder, Kelly. The Induction of Labour - To Induce or Not Induce?  Belly Belly, 2009, researched August 2009 <>

 [7] Hodnett ED, et al.. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Collaboration - Cochrane Reviews, 18 April 2007, researched August 2009 <>

 [8] Odent, Michel, The Farmer and the Obstetrician, Free Association Books, London 2002 page 105

Embrace 1917 by Egon Schiele

A woman laboring with an epidural therefore misses out on the final powerful contractions of labor and must use her own effort, often against gravity, to compensate for this loss. This explains the increased length of the second stage of labor and the increased need for forceps when an epidural is used.       

Sarah J Buckley [5]

We are learning that the capacity to love develops through a long chain of early experiences, particularly in the period surrounding birth. The way babies are born is the critical link of the chain that is routinely disturbed. It is also the link of the chain on which it is possible to act. (…) That is why the industrialisation of childbirth should become the main preoccupation of those interested in the future of humanity.                   

 Michel Odent MD [8]