Blooming Flower BudI was talking to my pregnant friend about her birth vision a few years ago, and her husband shared this awesome story about his sister, who had birthed 3 children:

When she was in labor with her first, a nurse asked her, “are you wanting a natural birth?” and she responded that she did. She was so confused when she found that she did not have natural tools to cope with pain in labor and the nurse was not offering her pain medication! She birthed her baby vaginally, but it hurt!

When she was in labor with her second, a nurse again asked her, “are you wanting a natural birth?” and she responded that she did. Once again, things got difficult, and the nurse assured her she could do it without pain medication, and she birthed her baby vaginally. But it hurt!

When she was in labor with her third and was asked yet again, “are you wanting a natural birth?” she yelled,


To my friend’s sister, “natural birth” simply meant that her baby would not be born via cesarean! The nurse’s use of the term natural birth implied that her patient would be forgoing pain medication. “Natural birth” does not have an official definition–to some, it means absolutely no medical intervention (including Pitocin and other methods of induction), to others it means no pain medication (or maybe acceptance of IV pain medication but no epidural), and to many (like my friend’s sister) it just means that the baby comes out of the vagina by any means necessary!

It is important to use clear language when speaking to doctors, midwives, and nurses about your birth preferences. Heartland Doulas offers birth planning sessions as part of our doula services or as a stand-alone appointment for those who are not seeking labor support. Call us today to set one up!


About Kate Herzel

Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and 7 doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her kids, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining for her friends.

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