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Natural Birth: How Likely is a Vaginal Delivery Without Intervention?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Much of the ability to remain calm during labour and birth revolves around understanding and accepting the unpredictability of the labour process. The experience can differ substantially from labour to labour and even if you have given birth before, you may find subsequent deliveries are vastly different from each other.

While opinions differ, today's common preference is for a ‘natural birth’: a drug-free, tear-free, physiological (unassisted, vaginal) delivery. If this is a mother’s preference, it is important that she is aware of the true statistical likelihood of that occurring and to plan accordingly. It is your baby, your birth, and your choice! You can choose a caesarean, even for your first birth.

It's important to set realistic birth expectations to ensure the safety of your and your baby.

Birth statistics

In Australia, approximately 50% of women in their first labour will give birth via a physiological or ‘normal’ vaginal delivery. Approximately 35% will need a Caesarean section, and 15% will need assistance with forceps or ventouse (vacuum).

Approximately 40% of women who labour will request an epidural for pain management and once this is administered, there is an increased likelihood of intervention. The reason for birth intervention is that, despite the epidural providing excellent pain relief, it can affect contraction quality, blood pressure and ability to push.

These side effects create the potential for further interventions such as syntocinon (the drug to aid contractions), foetal distress and increased likelihood of an assisted delivery.

Approximately 90% of women who have a vaginal birth, either assisted or unassisted, will sustain a tear or cut (episiotomy). While bad tears (third-degree or greater) are rare, there is generally some notable discomfort during the healing process. These numbers tell us that, while the chances are good for a ‘natural’ birth, this will not be possible for every woman.

For those who would like to have a 'natural birth' without medical intervention, without drugs or an epidural, and have little-to-no tearing, the key to maximizing the chances of success is preparation.

You wouldn't run a marathon without preparation. The same goes for birth.

To learn how to prepare for birth, secure your sport at our Virtual Birth or In-person Birth Masterclass. Lead by our Obstetrician Expert Dr Peter Jurcevic and our Midwife and Positive Birth Expert, Narelle Tsiros. You can also purchase our Parenting Portal which is inclusive of our library of staged-based Expert videos, expert guides and expert articles to access any time.

Mother nursing newborn baby after natural, vaginal birth


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