Look mom, no drugs! These techniques practiced by natural birth mamas may be used in a hospital, a birth center, or a home birth under the supervision of a midwife.
Robert Bradley, author of Husband-Coached Childbirth, coined this namesake birth method, which emphasizes the husband or birth partner’s role in supporting the mother. Classes stress excellent nutrition to prepare the body for birth, information about how the body works during labor, and natural breathing as an effective pain management technique.
A method founded by Marie Mongan, HypnoBirthing relies on relaxation. The philosophy: a woman’s body labors easily without resistance from muscle tension, and therefore, using self-hypnosis to reach total body relaxation can deter pain in childbirth. Visualization and affirmations, as well as support from the birth partner, are all key in HypnoBirthing.
French obstetrician Dr. Michel Odent first introduced the idea of using warm water as a means of pain management during labor, then later it was used during the entire birth. While waterbirth is controversial, it is said to be beneficial to mothers because it reduces pain, decreases tearing, and provides a gentle transition from womb to world for the baby. Some hospitals do not allow waterbirth, while others require mothers to bring their own inflatable birthing tub. In New Jersey, Morristown Medical Center, South Jersey Healthcare Elmer Hospital, and Hackettstown Regional Medical Center are equipped to support this method of childbirth.
Dr. Fernand Lamaze began teaching his approach to natural childbirth in France in 1951. Lamaze focuses on breathing techniques to help moms deliver without pain medication and other interventions. It also stresses the importance of letting labor begin on its own, and using upright birth positions.
A small and growing movement based in Colorado, Brio Birth is a modern approach combining many birth practices and philosophies, including the Bradley and Lamaze methods. Classes teach natural methods for pain management, ways your partner can be an active participant in your baby’s birth, and newborn care.
Erin Bernard-Benson is a freelance writer and mom who lives in New Jersey.