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The University of Chicago Medicine - The Family Birth Center

Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth has a different meaning to different people. We want to know what it means to you.

The Family Birth Center offers you a customized natural childbirth experience in a safe hospital setting.

Tell us what natural childbirth means to you in terms of:

When you're in labor, our team can coach you through healthy exercises using special equipment, including peanut balls, birthing balls, squatting bars, labor stools and more. We encourage movement as one of many options to enhance comfort during labor and to help your delivery progress. 

We offer natural and drug-free pain management options, including warm water immersion therapy (hydrotherapy) in our brand new birthing tubs.

At the Family Birth Center, you have options to manage labor pain with natural methods and epidural alternatives — as long as it's safe for you and your baby. For women who may choose or need to have one, our obstetric anesthesiology experts specialize in effective epidural pain relief without loss of sensation or mobility.

If your cervix is not dilating (opening) enough to allow a safe vaginal delivery, your physician or midwife may advise cervical ripening to help prepare you for labor. At the Family Birth Center, we offer an option for women who prefer a hormone-free alternative to other possible choices for cervical ripening or induction, such as dinoprostone vaginal inserts (Cervidil), misoprostol (Cytotec) or oxytocin (Pitocin).

Using a catheter (a thin, flexible tube), a physician or midwife passes a small cervical ripening balloon through the vagina and into the lower uterus (cervix). As the balloon is filled with saline, the cervix dilates in preparation for labor.

When possible, a safe vaginal delivery is always the first option -- even for some women who have had up to two prior cesarean births (C-sections). Yet under certain circumstances, a C-section may be the safest delivery option for the mother, baby or both. Whether you deliver vaginally or by "gentle" or "natural" cesarean, our team commits to remaining attentive to your priorities as you experience your child's birth.

With little evidence supporting its benefit as a birthing practice, our experts rarely perform episiotomy. If you can safely deliver without an episiotomy, our team will support your preference to not have one.

Our specialists delay cord clamping at birth to maximize healthy blood flow to the baby from the placenta. Waiting to cut the umbilical cord — at least 30 seconds or until pulsations stop — is an evidence-based practice associated with many benefits for newborns, including healthier circulation, lower iron deficiency anemia rates and lower jaundice rates. Delayed cord clamping may also mean less blood loss for the mother. At the Family Birth Center, you can even start skin-to-skin (kangaroo care) before the umbilical cord is cut.

We encourage immediate bonding after vaginal and cesarean deliveries. At the Family Birth Center, we routinely follow evidence-based best practices, such as skin-to-skin (kangaroo care), rooming in (couplet care) and early breastfeeding.

We encourage you to have an open discussion with your obstetrician, midwife or both, so our team can best prepare to uphold your expectations on the day you meet your newborn.