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  Care For Placenta
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  Natural or Epidural
  Best Birth Positions
  Using a Doula

Natural Childbirth or Epidural – Understanding Your Options

If you were to poll 100 women and ask their opinions on natural childbirth versus an epidural, you’re likely to get 99 different answers – along with in-depth explanations on which course of action is “right”. In fact, this debate has been around since the first epidural was used to relieve labor pains in 1946. Today, it’s estimated that 90% of all women get an epidural during childbirth. While this number is very high, it’s worth considering that many women prefer to have a natural childbirth.

Natural Childbirth

Many women are very happy with their natural childbirth plan and want to experience every moment of bringing a new being into the world. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Some women feel it’s a badge of honor to be able to say they lasted through 18 or more hours of hard labor without any pain relief.

Natural childbirth is obviously not a “bad” thing. In fact, it’s better for the baby since there are no foreign substances injected into the woman’s body during labor. Some women, however, are better prepared than others for the discomfort and downright pain that will come with childbirth. If you’re interested in going this route, it’s a good idea to look into relaxation techniques that will help you focus throughout the birth without the assistance of modern medicine.

Lamaze classes are very popular, especially with women who choose to have a natural childbirth. Lamaze is a breathing technique that teaches the expectant mother how to breathe through the pain and contractions in order to focus on the actual birthing process. These classes can be very helpful and most parents feel they are a necessity when it comes to childbirth. Most hospitals and community centers offer them, so check with your doctor if you’re interested in learning more about Lamaze and other natural birth techniques.


An epidural is a medical procedure that’s done by placing anesthesia in the epidural space in the spine. It “freezes” the feeling from the waist down and allows the mother to be fully conscious, but primarily pain-free during labor. It’s important to note that an epidural is a medical procedure and should not be performed anywhere but at a medical facility by trained professionals. In traditional hospitals, it’s usually done by an anesthesiologist or an anesthesiologist nursing student.

As with most medical interventions, there are some risks associated with an epidural, both to the mother and to the baby. You should always ask questions before you decide if this is right for you, and your anesthesiologist should be able to answer any questions you have about the procedure. You should never feel like you’ve been, “talked into” having it done. Whether or not to have an epidural needs to be a choice made after you have the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Some of the possible complications of the epidural include seizures, stroke, paralysis, back problems, heart attack, headache, and nausea with vomiting for the mother. In addition, some of the possible complications for the baby include a decreased neurological score, fetal bradycardia, fetal acidosis, or the need for forceps or vacuum during delivery. These are only a few of the possible complications and you should be made aware of all of them prior to receiving an epidural.

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