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Having a natural birth

A natural birth refers to delivering a baby without the use of pain medication, such as an epidural. Some women choose a natural childbirth, while others prefer medication to help them manage pain during labor and delivery. Choosing how you’ll deliver depends on your preferences and understanding of the benefits and risks.

If you’re planning a natural childbirth at a Dignity Health family birth center, trust our experts to provide everything you need. Our obstetrics and maternity services include compassionate support and drug-free pain relief options. We strive to make your childbirth experience personalized to you.

Find a Doctor near you who’s experienced in natural childbirth.


Benefits of choosing a natural birth

Not all women choose a natural birth. Sometimes, a natural birth is necessary. For example, if labor progresses quickly, there may be no time to give medications or perform other medical interventions. 

Women who choose a natural birth do so for many reasons, including: 

  • To avoid a series of medical interventions
  • To experience all of the sensations of labor and birth
  • To avoid the side effects of pain medication, such as drowsiness


What to expect: natural childbirth

The natural childbirth experience is different for each woman. Pain relief can be a concern for many expectant mothers. Knowing the three stages of labor can help prepare you for delivery without pain medication. Pain and discomfort exist in each stage, but some stages are more painful than others. The first stage of labor is characterized by painful contractions, while the last stage is often described as a burning sensation as the baby exits and stretches the birth canal.

Your obstetrics team at Dignity Health will offer the following natural pain relief options: 

  • Massage
  • Controlled breathing
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Distraction 

After a natural childbirth, it can take several weeks to regain normal strength and stamina. Some women recover quicker and feel fine just hours after birth. 

If you’re expecting a baby or preparing for a natural childbirth, register for a childbirth class to learn relaxation techniques, pain relief options, and more. 

Dignity Health performs natural childbirth in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.

Learn more about the Lauren Small Children's Center

Lauren's Story

The Lauren Small Children's center is named after Lauren Paige Small, a Bakersfield girl who inspired the community through her brave two-year battle with cancer.

Read Lauren's story