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natural childbirth | california hospital medical center

Natural Childbirth

Most people use the term natural childbirth to refer to the process of going through labor and birth without the use of pain medication or other medical interventions.

There are a variety of reasons why a woman would choose to pursue a natural childbirth. Some of those reasons include: 

  • Desire to avoid the “cascade of interventions.” Sometimes, one intervention can lead to others. A woman may choose natural birth because she wishes to avoid medical intervention during birth if possible.
  • To fully experience labor and birth. Some women want to feel completely present during birth, and want to experience all of the sensations of labor and birth.
  • Desire to avoid side effects of medication. Pain medications used during labor can affect the baby’s alertness after birth and may slow down labor. They can also make the mom-to-be feel nauseous or disconnected.
  • Belief in labor and birth as a natural experience. Some women believe labor and birth are normal, natural experiences that do not require medical intervention as long as things are progressing normally. 

Considering natural childbirth? Dignity Health Family Birth Centers have the advanced resources you need for a successful childbirth. Our professionals take a holistic wellness approach and help women to have the birth experience of their choice while receiving exceptional care. Find an OB today to learn more about your birthing options, including natural childbirth, at St. Bernardine Medical Center.

What You Can Expect with Natural Childbirth at St. Bernardine Medical Center

Labor is typically divided into three stages. This first stage of labor is further divided into three phases: early labor, active labor, and transition.

  • During early labor, your contractions will be far enough apart you can easily rest between them. You may feel anxious, excited, or nauseous.
  • In active labor, your contractions will increase in frequency and intensity. They will become closer together and last longer. You may find it hard to fully relax between contractions.
  • As you approach transition, your contractions may feel as if they are one on top of the other. It is also very common for women to say things like, “I can’t” or “I don’t think I can do this anymore” during transition. Transition is the shortest stage of labor and means birth is near.

The second stage of labor is the pushing phase. Women who have not received any pain medication during birth often describe an irresistible desire to push and a strong burning sensation as the baby’s head stretches the vaginal opening. You’ll feel some relief when the baby’s head exits your body; the rest of the baby’s body soon follows.

Contractions continue during the third stage of labor, which lasts from the baby’s birth until the delivery of the placenta.

Pain relief options commonly used during natural childbirth include distraction, water therapy, massage, controlled breathing and techniques taught in lamaze classes, and relaxation techniques. Your experienced Dignity Health birthing team will support you at every stage of labor and delivery.

The Dignity Health Family Birth Center team is pleased to support natural childbirth at St. Bernardine Medical Center.