When it comes to birth, you want to create an informed plan and choose what’s best for you and baby. You want everyone to be safe and sound. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the medical event it is for so many mommas in the U.S.

Our society has normalized medical birth to a degree that makes it difficult to find info, research, and stats in support of natural birth (and especially home birth!). There are a wide variety of benefits to you and baby when you go natural, and learning as much as you can about how to avoid interventions will set you up for success.

Specifically, a planned home birth with a midwife and doula is one of the best ways to achieve the natural birth of your dreams

This can be your reality, momma! Below, we’ll talk about this more in-depth. You’ll find stats and research about how to increase your chances of a natural birth and the reasons why doing it at home might make the most sense.

1. A home birth will make your natural birth dreams a reality

If you’ve got your heart set on a natural birth, planning a home birth is one of the best ways to fulfill this dream. In a hospital setting, the option of medical pain intervention is there and in many cases is used, even if the momma was hoping not to.

However, if things are progressing naturally at home, no matter the amount of pain you’re in, you can and will power through because the temptation of the epidural (or other pain medication) isn’t present.

Of all singleton, vaginal births in the US, around 71% of those births include the use of an epidural (source). Take a minute to let that sink in! That is a staggering majority of women who got epidurals. And I’m willing to bet it wasn’t the desired outcome for most of them.

But, when one thing leads to another, the cascade of interventions begins and it interferes with your body’s natural ability to let labor progress and help you handle the pain. The next thing you know you’re screaming for an epidural.

On the other hand, planned home births are “associated with fewer maternal interventions including epidural, fetal heart rate monitoring, episiotomy, C-sections, hemorrhage and infection” (source). Long story short, if you are a good candidate for home birth, it may be the best way to make your natural birth a reality.

2. Planned home births are on the rise

Alright, we just talked about why being at home might make your natural birth a reality, but some of you might be thinking: a home birth? Is that crazy? Actually, not at all! And the stats back it up.

The number of out-of-hospital births has risen by 77% between 2004 and 2017. (source) While it’s impossible to know exactly why, many hypothesize this is because of a rising desire for unmedicated birth, and an interest in a more intimate and private birth experience.

More and more celebrities are having home births and sharing their experience, which also helps normalize and bring attention to planned home birth. While it’s true that less than 2% of all births happen outside of a hospital setting, that number is steadily rising, and you can be a part of the movement.

3. Create a home birth plan that accounts for every scenario

If you’re starting to get excited about the idea of a planned home birth, and therefore natural birth, it’s important to go into the experience with a realistic game plan. Deciding to have a home birth is a wonderful choice for many women, but does require a little extra planning.

Why is planning for a hospital transfer during your home birth so important? Well, hospital transfers during home birth happen in around 30% of all planned home births.

However, 0-5% of those transfers are considered “emergency” situations. Your likelihood of hospital transfer during your home birth is higher if it is your first birth, and the most common reason for transfer is a slow or stalled labor (source).

By preparing for the scenario of a transfer ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the process and can still maintain as much of your natural birth plan as medically possible.

4. A doula will help you rock your natural home birth

Having a doula at your birth decreases your likelihood of needing Pitocin to speed up a stalled labor by 31% (source). Why did I pick this doula stat in particular? Well, above I mentioned that slow or stalled labors are the number one reason home births are transferred to the hospital.

If you reduce the risk of a slow or stalled labor by 31% by having a doula present, your chance of a home birth hospital transfer goes down dramatically. And, staying at home means a natural birth!

Additionally, having a doula at your birth has been proven to decrease your risk of C-section, request for epidural, and other medical pain interventions significantly as well.

While a doula is by no means a home birth must, she can be a wonderful addition to your birth team. Worried about the cost? Don’t miss this article about getting a free or low-cost doula.

5. Planning a natural birth decreases your risk for C-section

Whether you ultimately decide to have a natural birth at home or in another setting, planning for a natural birth with a professional midwife reduces your risk of C-section from 30% to 5% (source).

The main takeaway from this stat is that choosing who will attend your birth (OB vs. midwife) and the type of birth you plan for goes a long way in achieving your goal, location aside.

So if in the end, a home birth doesn’t feel right for you, you can increase your odds of a natural delivery, and lower your odds of a C-section best by delivering with a midwife and intentionally planning a natural birth. One essential step in planning is a birth class specific to natural birth.

6. Natural birth might make breastfeeding easier

While there is conflicting evidence on this front, some studies do suggest an association between epidural use and more difficulty breastfeeding (source).

Breastfeeding is a wonderful option for many mommas, but getting started can be a challenge for many reasons that are unrelated to the type of birth you have. Just one more benefit of natural birth is a better chance of breastfeeding success, and potentially one less barrier to break through.

7. Erase your fear of childbirth for a shorter labor

In my research about natural birth and planned home birth, I came across an interesting study that found women who are afraid of childbirth are more likely to have a longer labor (source).

The thing is, it’s completely normal to feel anxious or even afraid of childbirth.

For first-time mommas, it is the ultimate unknown! And for mommas who are birthing again, it can be difficult to bounce back from a traumatic first birth or wrap your head around doing it again.

Why did I include this on your list? Because knowing this fact can help you better prepare for your natural home birth. You can overcome your fear and benefit from a shorter labor.

What can you do to help reduce your fear surrounding birth?

  • Read as much as you can about the type of birth you desire. Our collection of home birth articles is a fabulous place to start
  • Enroll in a birth class specific to natural childbirth. Take in as much as you can about the birthing process and understand the amazing way your body will know what to do. Find a class that includes pain-management strategies and practice sessions to help you feel even more confident
  • Read birth stories and talk to mommas you know about their birth experiences. This will help you feel empowered
  • Be intentional about creating a birth plan that makes you feel safe and confident
  • Put extra attention into assembling a birth team that puts you at ease. The addition of a doula to your birth can be especially helpful if you are experiencing fear or anxiety when it comes to birth

8. Natural births often have shorter push times

One benefit of a natural birth that no momma can deny as awesome is that your push time will be shorter! Researchers have found that epidurals are often associated with a longer second stage of labor especially in first-time mothers (source). While there have been numerous studies that look at this, most seem to show double the amount of time spent pushing in women with epidurals.

The second stage of labor starts when you are fully dilated. Once you reach 10 cm, you will begin pushing, then the baby is birthed, followed by the placenta. Researchers speculate that this stage is lengthened by epidural use because the epidural makes the contractions less productive and may relax the pelvic floor in a negative way.

9. Constant fetal monitoring increases your risk of C-section

In the very first point of this article, I mentioned that planned home birth was associated with a host of benefits for momma and baby including less fetal heart rate monitoring (source). This is yet another benefit of natural home birth.

While some amount of monitoring is important, and in some cases medical necessary, continuous use of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) during birth increases your risk of C-section and instrumental vaginal birth (ie: forceps) (source).

The fact is, continuous electronic fetal monitoring isn’t medically necessary in most births, but many hospitals require it once momma receives an epidural. This is just another example of the way a ‘cascade of interventions’ in a hospital setting can really work to undermine your dreams of a natural birth.

10. Don’t forget about the golden hour after your natural birth

While this last look at research and stats isn’t specific to natural birth per say, I couldn’t skip it. Let’s talk about the golden hour! The golden hour after birth is the first 1-2 hours after baby is born. Making sure this time is as uninterrupted as possible between momma and baby will benefit both in so many ways!

Perhaps most remarkable is that breastfeeding within the first hour reduces baby’s risk of infant mortality by 33% (source). By spending the first hour of life engaging in skin-to-skin contact with your baby, breastfeeding is often self-initiated. Breastfeeding in this window of time is also associated with greater exclusive breastfeeding success.

So when it comes to planning your natural birth, don’t forget to include these wishes in your plan! All non-emergency procedures should be put on hold in favor of this special bonding time for momma and baby.

Feeling ready to plan your natural birth?

These birth stats and facts surrounding natural birth and avoiding interventions will help you make more confident decisions as you plan your birth.

Remember to trust in your body’s ability to give birth naturally, and set yourself up to achieve a natural birth by stacking the odds in your favor.

Birthing at home, planning a natural birth with a midwife, and having a birth doula are all concrete ways that you can set yourself up for success!

Have another great birth stat or fact about natural birth to share with our community? Let’s keep the list going and continue the empowerment!

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