Plain and simple, a natural birth is one where the baby is delivered vaginally, as women have since the beginning of time.
A natural delivery takes place without the use of chemical drugs to block pain or to induce labor. However the care provider may use any number of natural techniques for reducing pain. There are also a variety of herbs or plant based that a trained care provider may choose to use for starting labor.
Until the early 20th century, women giving birth were attended by family members, friends, or experienced midwives. Withe the advance of western medicine and the establishment of governing bodies such as the American Medical Association (AMA), hospitals became the primary place babies were delivered. Birth began to be treated as a medical condition.
Advances in science and technology have made remarkable achievements in the ability to save the lives of mothers and babies that in past decades would have been lost. However along with this has come many sacrifices, a shift in balance that has not necessarily resulted in better statistics or safer outcomes.
The U.S., which spends more money and has the highest in technological standards, is not rated even in the top 10 of nations for mother and infant mortality at birth. In 2016, the U.S. dropped from number 30 to 32, out of 179 countries.
Delivery by abdominal surgery or the cesarean section, once reserved for emergencies, has become routine. Many hospitals in the U.S. are delivering 30 percent or more babies by cesarean, and in countries like Brazil the numbers are over 60 percent. For some doctors around the world, their c-section rates are as high as 90 percent!
There are many reasons for this change, but one of the most obvious has been the male dominance of the medical profession, setting standards for a process where they have a clinical understanding, but no direct experience. Clearly it is time for a return to normalcy, and a greater understanding of the many factors at play that lead to a healthy, safe, natural birth.
Today in the U.S., fewer than 5% of births are performed by midwives.