Conscious Choices Lead to Less Intervention
Labor and delivery is a natural process that can be enjoyed. “It’s not something to be afraid of,” says Mel Campbell, author of The Yoga of Pregnancy. “It’s a wonderful and beautiful experience. We need to remember that the body is designed for giving birth.”
Natural childbirth uses few or no artificial medical interventions such as drugs, continuous fetal monitoring, forceps delivery or episiotomies (cuts to enlarge the vaginal opening). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 32.7 percent of deliveries were by Cesarean section in 2013—most performed in situations where a vaginal birth would have posed a relatively low risk to the health of mother and child. Entirely natural childbirth is now rare here compared with other countries, but that wasn’t always the case.
In 1900, 95 percent of all U.S. births took place in the home; when more moved to hospitals here in the early 20th century, midwives still typically handled the delivery in other countries, sometimes without a doctor present. In America, obstetrics became a profession and a doctor-attended birth in a hospital was promoted as a safer alternative. By 1938, half of domestic births took place in hospitals, and by 1960 it rose to 97 percent. Currently, midwives attend less than 8 percent of births here, and fewer than 1 percent occur outside a hospital.