Childbirth Methods: Natural Delivery, Medicated Delivery & C-Section

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  • 0:04 Childbirth
  • 1:03 Natural Vs.Medicated Delivery
  • 3:43 C-Section
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Birth is one of the first major developmental milestones, but there are many different ways to give birth. In this lesson, we'll look at three popular methods of childbirth: natural childbirth, medicated childbirth, and C-sections.


Deanna is having her first baby, and she's really excited but really nervous, too. She's taking a class in school that's all about human development, or the changes that humans go through as they grow and learn. Deanna realizes that one of the first major steps in development occurs at birth when the child is welcomed into the world.

Some of Deanna's friends have told her that she should take drugs for pain during labor, and others have told her that she shouldn't because the drugs are bad for her baby. Not only that, her cousin had to have a C-section, and Deanna isn't sure what that is, but it sounds pretty scary!

Deanna, like all expectant mothers, has some big decisions to make about what childbirth method she wants to use. Let's look at three different types of childbirth more in-depth: natural childbirth, medicated childbirth, and cesarean section.

Natural vs. Medicated Delivery

Remember that Deanna's friends are giving her all sorts of advice about whether to take drugs or not during labor. There is some controversy about whether it's better to go with natural childbirth, which involves taking no drugs during labor, or medicated delivery, which involves taking drugs during labor or delivery.

Many mothers believe that medication is bad or dangerous for the baby. However, the larger risk is to the mother. The medication given during childbirth is anesthesia, or medication that takes away pain by making an area numb or by taking consciousness away from the patient.

Expectant mothers, like others who are given anesthesia, can experience blood pressure issues, headaches, and reactions to the medication that could have serious side effects. However, most people are able to take anesthesia administered by a medical professional with no serious side effects.

There are three types of anesthesia given to mothers during delivery, and some pose more risks than others.

1. Local anesthesia is when a drug is given to numb one very small area of the body. This is sometimes given to new mothers in the vaginal region if incisions and/or stitches are needed. Local anesthesia carries with it the lowest risk for adverse effects.

2. Regional anesthesia is when a large area of the body is numbed using medication. One common type of regional anesthesia used in childbirth is an epidural, which is an anesthesia shot administered into the lower back of the mother. The shot dulls pain in the lower part of the body. While regional anesthesia, including epidurals, come with more risk than local anesthesia, they are generally considered to be safe for most people.

3. General anesthesia is when doctors use medication to put the patient to sleep. This is the type of anesthesia given to people who undergo serious surgeries. It is generally only used during childbirth for very complicated issues because it does create a much higher risk than either local or regional anesthesia. As a result, it's very rarely used during childbirth.

So, should Deanna go for natural or medicated childbirth? The choice is really up to her. It's unlikely that local or regional anesthesia will have any adverse effects for either her or her child, but many mothers still make the decision that they would prefer natural childbirth.

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