Natural vs. Medicated Childbirth: Making Informed Choices

Published: 14/09/2023

What are the options available?

As your expected due date gets closer you will be thinking about finalising your birth plan. One of the decisions you may be trying to decide on is whether you want medication during labour and delivery.  Having a plan of how you would like to manage pain can help you prepare for the experience.

In this article we look into the difference between natural and medicated birth, giving you the opportunity to make an informed decision on your experience. 

If you have access to myTamarin support and would like to talk through options with a myTamarin fertility nurse, book in a 1-1 via your company-specific link.

Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth, also known as unmedicated childbirth, is an approach that prioritises minimal medical intervention during labour and delivery. This method aims to allow the body to go through the birthing process as naturally as possible.

This is a wellness-based approach to the birthing process whereby labour starts on its own rather than being induced and the labour is left to run its course with minimal intervention.  

What are the benefits of natural childbirth?

  • Women often have a strong sense of control, empowerment, and accomplishment. 
  • Women can change birthing positions.
  • Emotional Connection: Many women who choose natural childbirth do so to feel more connected to the birthing experience and be fully present during the process.
  • Potentially a quicker delivery, and recovery

What are the risks of natural childbirth?

  • A longer drawn-out labour. 
  • The pain of labour may take away from the birth experience. 
  • Some women may require medication anyway in an emergency.

Medicated Delivery

This refers to the approach whereby medications are given to help with the labour and childbirth. This approach aims to provide women with a more comfortable birthing experience.

There are several medications that can be given to relieve pain or take the edge off in childbirth such as:

  • Gas and air (nitric oxide) 
  • Pethidine / diamorphine (intramuscular injection) 
  • Paracetamol or codeine (tablets) 
  • Epidural (a small catheter inserted into your spinal column used to block the pain from the waist down)

What are the benefits of medicated childbirth?

  • Pain Relief: The primary goal of medicated childbirth is to provide pain relief during labour. Epidurals and other pain medications can significantly reduce the intensity of contractions.
  • Shorter Labour: Pain management medications can help relax the body and potentially shorten the duration of labour, allowing mothers to conserve their energy.
  • Controlled Environment: Medicated childbirth often takes place in a more controlled medical environment, which can be reassuring for some women.

What are the risks of medicated childbirth?

  • Limited mobility - some pain relief options, such as epidurals, can restrict a woman's ability to move freely during labour.
  • Difficulty pushing or prolonged labour. 
  • Nausea 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Not every pain medication works for every woman

If your pregnancy is considered high risk, then a natural birth may not be the best option for you. 

Alternative options for pain relief in childbirth

There are also a number of therapeutic options that can be helpful in reducing pain such as; 

  • Massage 
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Water birth or hydrotherapy 
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Hypnobirthing 
  • Breathing techniques 

Questions to ask yourself whilst you complete your birth plan

  1. Do you feel empowered by the thought of giving birth naturally? 
  2. Do you feel that pain medication may help you stay relaxed and focused?
  3. Do you want to try for an unmedicated birth but keep your options open?

The decision between the two should be made with careful consideration of personal preferences, health factors, and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a safe and positive birthing experience that aligns with the mother's wishes and ensures the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

myTamarin Support

If you have access to myTamarin fertility support, book a consultation with one of our nurses who can help you answer the questions that pregnancy can bring.

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