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Options for Natural Birth


The term natural birth is often used to refer to the process of going through labor and birth without the use of pain medication or other medical interventions.

At Dignity Health, we want you to have the birth experience you’ve imagined. If you are interested in natural childbirth in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor to learn more about your options.

As you create your birth plan, we invite you to take a free tour of our birth center at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and birth center orientation class at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City.

Why Natural Birth?

Reasons a woman may choose natural childbirth include: 

  • The wish to fully experience all the sensations of labor and birth
  • Belief that labor and birth is a natural experience, not requiring medical intervention as long as things go smoothly
  • Desire to avoid side effects of medication, like disconnectedness or nausea
  • Desire to avoid the “cascade of interventions,” or one intervention leading to another

Experiencing Natural Birth at Dignity Health

Labor is usually divided into three stages. This first stage of labor is further divided into three phases:

  • During early labor, your contractions will be far apart, and you can easily rest between them.
  • In active labor, your contractions will increase in frequency and intensity. You may find it hard to fully relax between contractions.
  • As you approach transition, the shortest stage of labor, it may feel as if your contractions come one right after another. This means birth is near.

The second stage of labor is the pushing phase. Without pain medication, women often experience an irresistible desire to push and a strong burning sensation as the baby’s head stretches the vaginal opening. There is a sense of relief as the baby’s head exits, and the rest of the infant’s body follows.

The third stage of labor lasts from the baby’s birth until the delivery of the placenta. You will likely be preoccupied with your newborn baby during this time, although you will still have contractions. 

Your childbirth team at Dignity Health will support you at every stage of labor and delivery. Pain relief options commonly used during natural childbirth include: 

  • Water therapy
  • Distraction
  • Controlled breathing
  • Relaxation techniques

Recovering from Natural Birth

Recovery after birth is different for every new mom. Some women feel great within hours of giving birth, while others take weeks to regain their strength and stamina.

If the tissue between your vagina and anus, or perineum, tore during delivery, you may feel sore for a few weeks after birth. Your doctor will discuss postpartum pain relief and recovery with you.

Talk to your Dignity Health doctor today about your options for natural birth in the Bay Area. 

Dignity Health specializes in labor and delivery services, including natural birth, in Santa Cruz and Redwood City.