Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. 
Natural childbirth is a childbirth philosophy that attempts to minimize medical intervention, particularly the use of anesthetic medications and surgical interventions such as episiotomies, forceps and ventouse deliveries and caesarean sections.
Risks of anesthetics and other interventions
Proponents of natural childbirth note that anaesthetics may increase the likelihood of complications, because labor may be slowed or the woman may not be able to adequately move her body during labor or work with her body during final delivery. All epidural medications given during labor cross the placenta and affect the fetus, and it has been shown that pain medication can affect the feeding behavior of the newborn  and reduce the chances of successful breastfeeding.
A natural birth also increases the probability of a healthier postnatal period and an easier recovery due to better hormonal balance and less post-operative discomforts. This is because a woman who has given birth with minimal intervention does not have to recover from major abdominal surgery (caesarean section), instrumental delivery (by forceps or ventouse), cutting of the perineum, called episiotomy) (although the perineum will sometimes tear during childbirth anyway), bruises from IV lines, or severe headache backache (a possible and well-documented side effect of epidurals). Natural childbirth maximizes the innate birth physiology and laboring movement of healthy, well-nourished women and minimizes interventions in the normal course of spontaneous childbirth.
Alternatives to anesthetics
Pain management techniques other than medication include:
- relaxation therapy
- breathing exercises
- movement and different positions (i.e. using a birthing ball)
- hot and cold therapy (i.e. using hot compresses and/or cold packs)
- having one-on-one labor support, such as a midwife or doula
It should be noted that it is common to defecate while giving birth.
Many women consider natural birth empowering. A woman who is supported to labor as she instinctively wants to is a woman who will likely feel positive about her birth experience and future parenting skills.    Her baby is more able to be alert and placed on her skin (promoting maternal bonding) and breastfeeding is more likely to be enjoyable and successful.  
The Lamaze, Bradley Method, Birthing From Within, and Calm Birth are popular systems to help parents-to-be prepare for the birth process in general, and emphasize natural birth in particular.
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