Introduction to Natural Birth Midwife

Hello Mama.  Welcome to Natural Birth Midwife! This site is all about understanding natural childbirth - its advantages and its disadvantages - so you can make the best choices for you and your baby.  I'm honored that you took the time to check us out!

Before we go any further, have a look at this picture.  Why is she so happy?  Because she made very important choice about her pregnancy and childbirth.  

Natural Birth Midwife:  Introduction to Natural Birth. Image of Tiffany with newborn.

That choice produced a more alert newborn with higher APGAR scores than most newborns.  It also allowed her to return to normal faster than most new moms.  What was this incredibly important choice? 

She chose Natural Childbirth.

But before she made that choice, she needed answers to some important questions.  Five questions in particular.

  1. What are the advantages of a natural birth?  How does it differ from a typical hospital birth?
  2. How much does a natural birth cost?  Does insurance cover it?  How can I pay for it?
  3. Does a natural birth hurt more than a hospital birth?  How can I manage without pain medication?
  4. How does a midwife compare to a doula compare to an OB / GYN?  Who should I have on my natural birth support team?  
  5. What is the single most important thing I can do to prepare for a natural birth, regardless of the care setting I choose?

After this Introduction, our site is organized into 5 parts, each focused on one of those questions (ok, most of them are really two questions in one :-).  Feel free to jump to the topic that interests you the most, or just follow them all in order. 

The First Thing to Know

As a licensed midwife with over 25 years of experience attending more than 1500 births, the first thing I want you to know is:  the hospital is NOT the only safe option for having your baby. It does have it's place and for some mothers a hospital birth is the right choice.  

But for the vast majority of births, a hospital setting is unnecessarily expensive and physically invasive.  Stick with me for awhile and I will show you WHY it's not necessary. More importantly, I will show you alternatives that may work better for you.

The Most Important Question

Our site will help cut through the conflicting information and mixed messages you may have received and get right to the heart of the matter.  Natural Birth Midwife will help you answer THIS question:

What is the right kind of pregnancy and birth experience for YOU Mama?

AND for your baby?

Start with the five topics I shared above.  Complete the simple assignments.   At the end of Part 5 you will have your own, individual answer to the Most Important Question.

And I will do everything I can to help get you to that point.  There is only one small thing I want in return…

Please ask me questions along the way!

Yes, I mean that.   Reach out to me directly at any time, by tapping the ASK ME button below.  Share with me anything you are curious or concerned about.  I’m here for you and I WILL answer you.

You deserve to have your baby, your way.  All mamas do.   Helping you discover the power and freedom of natural childbirth is my life’s calling.  

Now you may be asking - why should you care about my life’s calling :-)?  Why should you spend time listening to a natural birth midwife?

Great question. Let me take moment to introduce myself.

Meet Your Natural Birth Midwife

My name is Paula Grady and I am a certified professional midwife, licensed by the Medical Board of California.  I have been providing prenatal care, postpartum care and attending home birth and freestanding birth center births for over 25 years now.  Over 1500 babies and still counting!

Natural Birth Midwife: Introduction to Natural Birth.  Image of Paula with babies.

I am also Senior Midwife and Chief Medical Officer for The Midwives Childbirth Services. We operate the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley Birth Centers, located in Napa and Santa Rosa, California.

I am the mother of five daughters, three of whom arrived by way of unmedicated birth at home.  I had lovely hospital birth experiences with the first two.  But the experience of delivering my last three babies at home was, simply … awesome.  Life-changing.

You can have that kind of experience too – IF it is right for you. More on that later.  

My point is – I have many years of first-hand experience with natural birth AND hospital birth.   Both as a licensed health care provider and as a mom.  

So you can count on me to offer fair and unbiased information about both types of birth experiences.  I look forward to sharing that information with you.

But enough about me.   This website is about you, Mama.  

So let’s talk about Natural Childbirth.  First of all, let’s answer the question, what is a natural birth?

Definition of Natural Childbirth

The World Health Organization defines natural childbirth as “a process in which a woman delivers vaginally without the use of instruments, epidural anesthesia or general anesthesia.”

Natural Birth Midwife:  Introduction to Natural Birth.  Image of Tiffany breathing in birth tub.

While there are many variations of this definition, they all emphasize the general avoidance of medical interventions in what has always been a natural process.

Sometimes people will use the words ‘traditional hospital birth’ or ‘normal hospital birth’ as they try to describe labor and birth options.  

Do you know how wrong that is?

The TRUTH is: natural childbirth was a thing long before people started delivering babies in hospitals.   In fact, for thousands of years it was the ONLY thing!

So why is it that 98% of all births in the United States today occur in hospitals?

Well, that’s a great question.  There are some very good reasons to have a hospital birth with standard healthcare providers.  But they don’t apply to everybody.  

Not even close. Let me explain.

Differences:  Natural Birth vs Hospital Birth

Studies show that for low-risk women with a healthy pregnancy, birth outcomes in ‘out of hospital’ (OOH) settings – meaning at home or a stand-alone birthing center – are just as favorable as they are in hospitals.  Often much more so. 

Statistically, natural childbirth results in:

  • Fewer medical interventions (inductions, epidurals, c-sections)
  • Faster recovery
  • Enhanced bonding between mother and baby
  • Fewer health issues for mother and baby (in particular related to cesarean section)
  • Lower risk of postpartum depression
  • And many more benefits

It’s important to understand, at Natural Birth Midwife, when we talk about OOH births, we are referring ONLY to healthy, low-risk pregnancies and childbirth under the care of licensed professional midwives.

And when we say ‘healthy, low-risk pregnancies,’ we mean ‘free from a defined set of risk factors identified by medical authorities.’  

According to the CDC, 85% of all pregnancies fall into this low-risk category.  

Translation:  the vast majority of pregnant women are good candidates for natural childbirth.

So what about the 15% that DON’T fall into the low risk category?  These mothers benefit from closer proximity to specialized medical doctors and hospital staff, to protect against the risk of complications.

Factors That "Might" Make Hospital a Better Choice

According to the Medical Board of California, some of the risk factors that call for a hospital-based birth include:

  • Pregnancies with multiples (twins, etc)
  • Breech presentations
  • Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC)
  • Certain medical health conditions such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes

Standards will differ by location.  Consult your medical authority for local regulations and guidelines. 

Why Natural Birth is Usually Better

Now, with all of that said, let me offer a very powerful perspective on pregnancy and childbirth.  At Natural Birth Midwife, we know:

Pregnancy itself is NOT a medical condition.  

Childbirth itself is not a medical event.

Yes, medical doctors can help with both pregnancy and childbirth. In some cases they should help.

But as we now know, in the vast majority of cases (at least 85% of the time) they are not necessary.   Women were having babies for thousands of years before hospitals came along.

Bottom line, you were MADE to do this, Mama.  You CAN do this. Unless you fall into a higher-risk category you DON’T NEED a hospital.   

Even if you DO fall into a 'high risk' category, you should make your personal preferences known to your doctor, whatever they are.  They can often make accommodations that would not have been made if you had not asked for them directly.

Comparison: Hospital vs. Out of Hospital (OOH) Birth

Let’s take a closer look at what you might expect from each kind of experience (hospital-based birth vs. natural childbirth).

In a Typical Hospital Delivery

In a Typical Home or Birth Center Delivery (Natural Childbirth)

Rules and procedures are enforced by doctors and nurses

The process is more individual and controlled by the mother

Pain is managed medically - i.e. via epidural or prescribed medication

Pain management is entirely natural - i.e. breathing / relaxation / waterbirth

Movement is restricted according to equipment and protocol - i.e. beds, stirrups

The mother is free to move and choose her most comfortable position

Family participation is usually restricted and limited to providing moral / spiritual support

No restriction on family involvement.  It is not unusual for a family member (or the mother herself) to 'catch' the baby

I could go on and on. But these are some of the key differences.

How to Choose

Now for some new moms, following a specific protocol, being directed by doctors, having immediate access to pain relief and emergency intervention if needed is comforting.  It feels like the best thing for her and for her baby.  

If that is you, wonderful!  The hospital will play an important role in your birth process. Find your perfect OB / GYN and work with them to create the birth experience of your dreams.   As I mentioned before, I have had that experience.  Twice :-).

For other new moms, it is much more important to have their baby, their way.  They want to be in control of their entire birth plan. They want to trust their bodies and avoid unnecessary medical interventions.  They believe that the outcome will be healthier for both mom and baby.

If that is you, wonderful!  Find your perfect licensed, experienced midwife and work with them to create the birth experience of your dreams.  As you know, I’ve had that experience as well.  Three times :-).

Which experience did I prefer?  You can probably tell by now :-).

But again, this is about you, Mama.  Stay with me and together we will figure out the best option for you.

And don't forget to ask me ANY question that has occurred to you as you read this post. Simply tap the ASK ME button below.  I will make every effort to get back to you within 24 hours.

In Part I we will focus on the questions “What are the Advantages of a Natural Birth?  How does it differ from a typical hospital birth?  I can’t wait to tackle this important topic with you. 

In the meantime, thank you for your interest in Natural Birth Midwife.  I am humbled and honored to be part of your  journey.  See you in Part 1!

Warmly –

Paula Grady LM, CPM

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