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Effective Aids to a Natural Healthy Birth

The healing arts, of which midwifery is one, have a long tradition of working with the body's innate healing capacity rather than intervening in order to "fight" illness, and in doing simple things to correct serious problems. Countries like the Netherlands, which employ midwives for the majority of births, have much lower mortality rates than the US. Effective aids to normal labor include: encouraging the birthing woman to be upright and move about as much as possible; having a calm person experienced in childbirth remain at her side once labor becomes active; helping her maintain a positive attitude; giving her massage; helping her focus on her breathing and staying calm; feeding her and making sure she has enough fluids to keep up her strength so her uterus can do its work; and helping her assume an upright position for delivery so her body can work with, rather than against, gravity. Environmental factors include a place that is familiar and comfortable to the laboring woman, and where she and her companions feel free to move around, and wear their own clothes rather than hospital gowns. Siblings, adequately prepared, are free to come and go as they choose, in an environment familiar to them.

Only in the last decade has anything approximating such practices been seen in hospitals, however they are "permitted" rather than seen as central to the birthing, and tend to be accompanied with electronic monitoring, drugs and anesthesia, rather than done in lieu of these risky interventions. While labor and delivery rooms are becoming combined into one room and attractively decorated, as Suzanne Arms asserts, "all the modern medical technology packed into them will never give a birthing woman the kind of emotional and physical support she needs to have a normal birth."

While home or birth center births are more likely to offer an environment that supports a natural, normal birth, the fact is that many women will continue to choose to give birth in a hospital. Given this, a carefully prepared birth plan can be a vital element in ensuring parents be fully informed of the pros and cons of each birthing option, and in facilitating among all concerned the understanding that a good birth will consider a woman and her newborn's emotional and spiritual potential and wellbeing, as well as physical safety.


Suzanne Arms, Immaculate Deception II
Sheila Kitzinger, The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth
Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept*
Joseph Chilton Pearce, Magical Child*

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