What Are the Options for Alternative Childbirth?

The recent royal arrival has sparked a new wave of women looking into alternative childbirth methods, after it was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge wanted to try for a natural birth – she even looked into hypnobirthing as a way of reducing the labour pains, instead of using conventional pain relief. Most women give birth in the NHS maternity units around the country, and just two percent of mothers give birth at home in England, but these are quite different from the clinical environments of decades before. A lot of hospitals have no removed the traditional hospital beds in favour of more relaxing and calming spaces where they can be surrounded by their personal possessions.


There is now an increasing trend for alternative births where the mother uses a doula – this is a non-medical birthing companion who is there to support the labour and help the mother deliver her baby, as well as being present for a short while afterwards. Her role is to literally be there as another mother who can offer guidance and support. An agency is available which offers a choice of over 500 qualified doulas, all but one of which are female. In the past, this role was one which was taken on by the pregnant woman’s mother or sister, but as nuclear families are no longer the norm, and geographical distances become more common, this isn’t always possible. Doulas can help to provide support in an understanding way, helping to offer an insight into the pregnancy as you go through it which can be reassuring if this is your first birth.


Aromatherapy is an option with childbirth, and there are a number of essential oils which are safe in pregnancy. These include lavender, rose, peppermint, lemon, chamomile and eucalyptus, all of which can reduce stress and anxiety, decrease pain levels and lift the spirits. This therapy isn’t for everyone and can cause irritation in some women, but it can be an option for some – it’s advised that you seek medical advice from your GP before using this form of therapy. You should steer clear of them entirely if you have a history of miscarriage, have diabetes, heart problems, epilepsy or have suffered with vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy.


Hypnobirthing, such as the form that Kate Middleton was tempted to use, is a technique which many women opt for. It can help to calm the mother and relieve anxiety, as well as calming the body and mind. During the pregnancy itself there will be a number of stages, including your after breaking and the initial contractions – this can be a daunting time, especially if you’re new to mothering and are unsure what to expect. Many women find that having someone with them to go through the process with and express their anxieties too helpful, which is why so many are now seeking the advice of a doula. The more common forms of pain relief include epidurals, gas and air, or morphine. However, for women who don’t want to bring their baby into the world in a drug-infused environment, these are less than desirable.


The desire for organic and natural remedies in everyday life are now seeping into more medical procedures, including pregnancy. The same can be said of the afterbirth, where you may need treatment for tears in the vagina or perineum – alternative therapies may be useful here too. Your GP will be able to offer advice on what your options are during your pregnancy so that you can prepare accordingly when you give birth.

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