Health A to Z

Natural childbirth

A natural birth is the term used to describe delivering a baby with minimal medical intervention, such as drugs or surgery.

Natural childbirth, natural childbirth birth plan, natural childbirth complications

Natural childbirth can take place in a hospital with a doctor or midwife who supports your decision or with a midwife at home or unassisted. There is some concern that the increase in medical intervention in low-risk births, such as the rise in Cesarean sections, introduces unnecessary risks for women and their babies. Advocates of natural childbirth say that there are big advantages to a natural child birth, that it’s better for the baby and mother not to be medicated and that babies who weren’t medicated will take to breastfeeding more naturally after birth.

Birth plans
Writing up a birth plan can be a helpful tool for you and your doctor. Your birth plan outlines your wishes in terms of episiotomies, birth positions and pain management to help you get the birth you want. Discuss your birth plan with your doctor or midwife and if you’re having a hospital birth, bring it with you for the delivery.


A change of plan Even with a birth plan and a desire to have natural childbirth, some women may change their minds and decide they want pain medication, such as an epidural. And if the baby is at risk during birth due to a medical condition, a C-section may be recommended for a safe delivery. Other medical interventions, such as the need for forceps can also arise.

Unassisted natural childbirth Unassisted childbirth or “freebirth” which is childbirth without the assistance of a doctor or midwife, has come under scrutiny and experts fear it may lead to a rise in maternal deaths during childbirth. The SOGC (Society of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of Canada) supports natural childbirth, but says the evidence is in favour of women giving birth with a skilled attendant, either a health care professional in a hospital or a trained midwife for a home birth who has the training to identify and react to problems with the baby or mother during and after childbirth.

Outside resources
Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth Support