NATURAL CHILDBIRTH & LABOR
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Natural childbirth is a philosophy of childbirth that is based on the belief that women who are adequately prepared are innately able to give birth without routine medical interventions. Natural childbirth arose in opposition to the techno-medical model of childbirth that has recently gained popularity in industrialized societies, and is a childbirth philosophy that attempts to minimize medical intervention, particularly the use of anesthetic medications and surgical interventions such as episiotomies, forceps and ventouse deliveries and caesarean sections. A woman's definition of 'natural' may range from no intervention at all to birth which includes any intervention deemed appropriate.. The application of this philosophy may occur during a physician or midwife attended hospital birth, a midwife attended homebirth, or an unassisted birth.The term "natural childbirth" was coined by obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read upon publication of his book Natural Childbirth in the 1930s, which was followed by the 1942 Childbirth Without Fear.
Research has estimated that up to 95 percent of women can safely give birth without medical interventions (including, but not limited to, epidurals, caesarian sections, vacuum extraction, and forceps). Therefore, the midwifery model of care, which usually holds a more holistic approach to labor and delivery, tends to avoid such routine interventions (which can lead to complications for both mother and infant) when used for the sake of convenience, and rely on medical tools only when they are deemed absolutely necessary to ensure safety.
Instead of interventions, a variety of non-invasive methods are employed during natural childbirth to aid the mother with the labor, since they do not to carry the inherent risk of medical procedures. Many of these stress the importance of "a mind-body connection," which the techno-medical model of birth tends to ignore. Pain management techniques other than medication include hydrotherapy, massage, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, breathing exercises, acupressure for labour, TENS, vocalization, visualization, mindfulness and water birth. Other approaches include movement and different positions (i.e. using a birthing ball), hot and cold therapy (i.e. using hot compresses and/or cold packs), and receiving one-on-one labor support like that provided by a midwife or doula. However, natural childbirth proponents maintain that pain is a natural and necessary part of the labor process, and should not automatically be regarded as entirely negative. In contrast to the pain of injury and disease, they believe that the pain of childbirth is a sign that the female body is functioning as it is meant to.
Some methods used to augment labor without medication require that the woman is an active participant in the birthing process. They include frequently changing positions and walking. Birth positions favored in natural childbirth—including squatting, hands and knees, or suspension in water—contrast with the popular lithotomy position of a medicalized birth (woman in hospital bed on her back with legs in stirrups), which has consistently been shown to slow and complicate labor. Methods to reduce tearing (instead of an episiotomy) include managing the perineum with counter-pressure, hot compresses, and pushing the baby out slowly.
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