Natural birth. Some people cringe at the thought. Some may imagine barefoot women with sunflowers in their hair diffusing essential oils and eating organic hummus. Natural birth seems to be brushed off as being reserved for the "crunchiest" members of society. I would like to nip that stereotype in the bud and say that childbirth sans pain medication is for all women!
Why go natural? Let me count the ways! Avoiding pain medication is not out of a fear of "big pharma." Studies show that epidurals can actually increase your chances of needing further medical intervention (i.e., labor augmentation via Pitocin, or Cesarean section). This is referred to as the "Cascade of Interventions." Nobody wants to increase their chances of having major abdominal surgery!
Another reason to avoid medications during labor is so that your hormones can operate without interference. Your brain is releasing very specific amounts of oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline, and other hormones to progress labor, to keep you going, and even to relieve pain! Dr. Sears compares this process to the conduction and performance of a great musical symphony. Medications of any kind disrupt the production of these hormones so that they are no longer working in harmony with one another. This dissonance can result in a lack of that beautiful rush of oxytocin - aka the love hormone - when baby is born. Believe me, you want the oxytocin!
Finally, I often hear women say that they are not strong enough or that their pain tolerance is too low to give birth without an epidural. Listen - if I can do it, anyone can! I'm pretty sure my toddler has a higher pain tolerance than I do. But, as I noted earlier, your body is making hormones to fight the pain! And the greatest thing? It is totally empowering! Giving birth without medication has the power make you feel like you can accomplish anything! It was definitely one of the greatest self-efficacy boosters I have ever experienced.
So, to the average woman I say "Natural birth is for you!" You don't need super strength, and you don't have to be one with Mother Nature. If you are educated and have a supportive birth team, then you can absolutely achieve a natural birth. No organic hummus required.