Is Natural Birth Better?
This question has been asked over the past century, with no definitive answers. Is natural birth better for the baby? Is it safe to give birth naturally? Is it safer to give birth in a hospital? All of these questions come with one answer: It depends.
We advocate for natural birth because evidence shows that, for the majority of births in low-risk situations, delivering with a midwife is often more satisfying and safe for mom and baby.
“More than 700 women in the US die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.”
“Women in the United States are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes than other women in high-income countries.”
The safety and advantages of natural birth have been demonstrated over and over in developed countries throughout the world, including the United States. The World Health Organization data shows that births attended by midwives have decreased infection rates, lower cesarean rates, fewer complications and more healthy outcomes. These births also have less overall medical expenses than physician-attended hospital births.
No distinction in infant mortality between midwife-attended and physician-attended births for low-risk women has been shown. Countries such as New Zealand, the Netherlands and Sweden, which have the best birth outcome statistics in the world, use midwives as their primary maternity care providers. The Netherlands alone has much lower maternal and infant mortality rates than in the United States, and more than half of all Netherlands children are born at home with midwives in attendance.
“Although many believe that hospitals are the safest environment for labor and birth, research shows that equally good or better outcomes can be achieved in low-risk women having planned home births or giving birth in freestanding birth centers. Because of its inherently noninterventive and more intimate nature, out-of-hospital birth facilitates mother-friendly care.”
“Americans could save $13 to $20 billion annual in healthcare costs by developing a network of midwifery care providers, de-medicalizing childbirth, and encouraging breastfeeding.”
“Racial disparities persist. The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is three to four times higher than those of white women.” – CDC
“Interventions in labor are closely linked with having unplanned cesarean. The phenomenon where one intervention increases the likelihood of others used to monitor, prevent, or treat side effects is known as the “cascade of intervention.” This cascade frequently ends in an unplanned cesarean section. Among first-time mothers with term births who experienced labor, those who had both labor induction and epidural analgesia were six times as likely to have a cesarean section as those who had neither intervention.” – Listening to Mothers Survey III
95% of low-risk women could give birth without medical intervention. – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Affiliate link)
“Almost all women (87%) who labor in hospitals undergo continuous electronic fetal monitoring, 80% receive intravenous fluids, 47% have labor artificially accelerated with medications, and 43% of first-time moms have labor artificially induced. In addition, 60% of women giving birth in hospitals are not allowed to eat or drink, 76% are restricted to bed, and 92% give birth lying on their backs. There is strong evidence that routine use of these practices, when carried out without medical indications, has few benefits and many potential harms for healthy mothers and babies.”