From conception to holding your new baby in your arms, the process of pregnancy and birth is full of fascinating surprises. Likewise, there are many interesting natural childbirth facts that you may or may not know. Let’s discuss 16 of them!
Natural Childbirth Facts – Statistics
Despite the discomfort inherent in a natural childbirth, the women who experience it tend to rate their birth as more satisfying than women who choose an epidural (11).
2. Less than Half
In the United States, approximately 39% of women who have vaginal birth do so without an epidural (1).
3. Hispanic Majority
Women of Hispanic origin are more likely to have a natural childbirth in the United States than women of any other race (1).
4. Increases With Age
The older you are, the more likely you are to choose a natural childbirth. Women aged 40 and over are the least likely to choose an epidural (1).
5. 2nd Time Moms
Moms who have given birth before are more likely to have a natural childbirth than first-time moms (1).
6. Rates Vary By State
Natural childbirth rates vary widely by state. Only 22% of women living in New Mexico choose an epidural, while over 78% of women living in Kentucky receive anesthesia (1).
7. Certified Nurse Midwife
Women who give birth attended by a certified nurse midwife (CNM) are more likely to have a natural childbirth than women who give birth attended by a medical doctor (1).
8. Continuous Labor Support
Women who have continuous labor support from a well-prepared partner or doula are more likely to have a natural childbirth than women who do not (9).
Natural Childbirth Facts – Labor
9. Loose Stool
Early labor triggers the release of prostaglandins–hormones that help stimulate contractions in smooth muscle. The intestines and bowel are made of smooth muscle. As a result, most women who are unmedicated will have loose stool during early labor (13).
10. Push or Poop
The urge to push during a natural birth is commonly mistaken for the need to poop. As the baby’s head descends into the birth canal, it puts pressure on the same nerves that a bowel movement does. This creating the familiar sensation of having to poop.
11. Helpful Hormones
Mom’s body releases hormones like epinephrine in response to labor pain. When mom is coping well with labor through the use of breathing techniques, relaxation, or other coping tools, the epinephrine helps her along by promoting alertness and effective pushing (6).
12. No Need to Break Water
In a natural childbirth, the doctor does not need to break the water for baby to be born. It will likely happen on its own during labor or right before birth as the head crowns. Rarely, babies are born with the amniotic sac still intact (8).
13. Amniotic Sac Increases Comfort
Most women say that labor is more comfortable and contractions are easier to manage when the amniotic sac is still intact.
14. Ring of Fire
Right before the baby is born, the perineum (the area between the anus and vagina) gets stretched out as baby’s head starts to crown. The stretching skin causes a temporary burning sensation known as “the ring of fire.”
15. Rest & Be Thankful Phase
After the cervix is 10cm dilated, some women experience a brief period of time without any contractions. This may be your body’s way of giving you time to rest up for work of pushing, and is often known as the “Rest & Be Thankful Phase.”
16. Shorter Pushing Phase
Women who have a natural childbirth tend to experience a shorter pushing phase of labor and less instrumental deliveries than women who choose an epidural (10).
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Natural Childbirth Facts Resources:
(1) Osterman MJK, Martin JA. Epidural and spinal anesthesia use during labor: 27-state reporting area, 2008. National vital statistics reports; vol 59 no 5. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.
(2) Smith, G. C. (2001). Use of time to event analysis to estimate the normal duration of human pregnancy. Hum Reprod 16(7): 1497-1500.
(3) Dekker, Rebecca. (2017). Evidence on Due Dates. Retrieved from https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-on-inducing-labor-for-going-past-your-due-date/
(4) Buhimschi, C.C. & Buhimschi, I.A. (2006). Advantages of VAginal Delivery. clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 49 (1), 167-183.
(5) Childbirth Connection (2012). Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is at Stake for Women and BAbies? New York: Childbirth Connection.
(6) Buckley, Sarah J. Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. Washington, D.C.: Childbirth Connection Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families, January 2015.
(7) Prior, E., et al. (2012). Breastfeeding after cesarean delivery: A systematic review and meta-analysis of world literature. Am J Clin Nutr, 95(5), 1113-1135.
(8) Caul. (2017). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caul
(9) Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.
(11) Morgan, B., Bulpitt, C.J., Clifton, P., and Lewis, P.J. (1982). Analgesia and satisfaction in childbirth (The Queen Charlotte 1000-mother survey). Lancet, 1, 808
(12) Salmon, Y. M., et al. (1986). “Cervical ripening by breast stimulation.” Obstet Gynecol 67(1): 21-24.
(13) Husslein, P. (1984). The importance of oxytocin and prostaglandins to the mechanism of labor in humans. Wien Klin Wochenschr Suppl. 155:1-32.