Low tech, low intervention, natural, physiologic -- these are all words that describe birth when it's closest to it's original form, free from (or as little as possible) medical intervention. Of course, birth can't (and shouldn't) always be this way -- and we're all very thankful for the medical technology that exists to save lives and help people in need. But in more recent years, we've discovered that when birth is allowed to progress on it's own, it's often healthier for parent and baby, and leads to better overall outcomes. Unless there is a true medical need, interventions like induction, pitocin, cesarean, separating mother and baby, restricting eating/drinking/movement, and continuous fetal monitoring, should be avoided.
While the United States is beginning to see a shift in how birth is handled in hospitals, with practices/procedures beginning to move in the direction of a more hands-off-unless-necessary approach, there are still a good number of hospitals and doctors who recommend and perform unnecessary interventions too often. The tips included below will help give you the best chance of avoiding unnecessary interventions and having the low-tech birth you desire.
Prepregnancy - When you learn about birth options before pregnancy, you're better equipped to choose a care provider (OB, midwife, doctor) who supports a low intervention birth. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a prepregnancy class. These kind of classes are usually shorter than full-length childbirth preparation classes, and serve to inform you about practices for a healthy pregnancy, and how you can begin preparing for birth, including choosing the best care provider.
Choose wisely - In the absence of prepregnancy education, it's important to learn about how your choice of care provider can affect your chances of a low-intervention birth. Once you're armed with the facts, take the time to research and interview potential care providers, and then, choose wisely.
Learn about birth - The more you know about childbirth, the more you have the freedom to choose a path that leads to good outcomes. A quality childbirth class gives you in-depth information about choices in birth, including how to prepare, how to cope, the benefits and drawbacks to different interventions, and so much more.
Get support - Studies have shown that continuous support in labor is associated with better outcomes, including less use of interventions and a better overall birth experience. Continuous support from a doula is an excellent way to achieve this, but if you don't hire a doula, you can still have good support from a partner, family member, or friend. It can help to take your chosen support person to childbirth classes with you, as well as seek out the book The Birth Partner (Simkin, 2018) for study. Get started with this Birth Partner Cheat Sheet from Lamaze.
Labor at home - If you're giving birth in a hospital, it helps to labor at home as long as possible before going to your place of birth. Arriving at the hospital in labor too early, before you're in active labor (6cm), can make it less comfortable for you to labor in the hours of early labor, can slow down your labor, and can introduce unexpected and/or unnecessary interventions due to being on the hospital's "clock" for labor. If you arrive at the hospital too early, consider leaving to labor longer at home or laboring in the lobby of the hospital so you have the security of being close by, but you're not officially checked in.
Avoid induction - Unless it's medically necessary (for reasons like preeclampsia, problems with baby, infection), it's best to avoid induction. Induction is an intervention that brings with it several additional interventions, including pitocin, (often) epidural, limited mobility, IV, and an increased chance of cesarean. If you can avoid induction, you prevent the cascade of interventions that follows.
A low intervention or low tech birth is never guaranteed, as it's impossible to predict what may naturally happen in birth that would medically require helpful interventions. At the same time, when you don't know your choices in birth -- and why you would or would not want them -- you limit your ability to choose. If you're seeking a low tech birth, take time to get the information and resources that support your desired goal -- you won't regret it!
TagsBirth Interventions Low intervention birth Physiologic birth