Low-Intervention Births

If you're pregnant and planning your delivery, it's important you have the birth experience you want.

We offer low-intervention (sometimes called "natural") birth as an option for low-risk pregnancies.

We can help you create your personalized birth plan to outline your goals for your birth experience and to make sure you and your baby are safe and healthy.

What is Low-Intervention Birth?

Low-intervention birth is delivering your baby with little or no pain medication. Relaxation and breathing techniques are used to control pain and ease delivery.

Is Low-Intervention Birth Right for Me?

You may want to choose low-intervention birth if:

  • You are pregnant with a single baby 
  • You are a healthy, low-risk uncomplicated pregnancy 
  • Your BMI is less than 40
  • Your baby is head down (not breech)
  • You have no prior C-sections (VBAC births are safest with continuous monitoring)
  • Your labor begins between 37+0 weeks and 42+0 weeks of pregnancy
  • You are not taking medication for gestational diabetes
  • Your prenatal test and ultrasound results do not indicate a need for continuous fetal monitoring or the level of care provided in a Labor & Delivery room 
  • You are receiving prenatal care from UC San Diego Health's Nurse Midwifery Service.
  • You have no known COVID-19 infection during current pregnancy

Where Will I Deliver?

You can choose a low-intervention birth at both our La Jolla or Hillcrest Labor & Delivery suites and at our La Jolla Birth Center.Also see Giving Birth

Managing Labor Pain

Our certified nurse-midwives offer labor support techniques to help low-intervention birth patients during labor, including:

  • Walking
  • Hydrotherapy (only at Birth Center location)
  • Birth stools
  • Birth balls
  • Breathing techniques
  • Massage
  • Music

Patients delivering in the Birth Center or Labor & Delivery can also request assistance from a volunteer doula. A doula will provide continuous one-to-one support throughout labor, delivery and immediately after.

What if I Want Medication

Pain medication is available if you decide you need it. If the pain is too challenging or if a complication should arise, the option of transferring to a Labor & Delivery room for epidural anesthesia or more intensive medical care is available.

Regardless of whether care is provided at our Birth Center or in Labor & Delivery, you will continue to have the support of a midwife throughout your delivery and postpartum.

What If There are Complications?

Birth is a positive and normal experience, but emergencies can happen without warning. You can take comfort in knowing that your safety and the safety of your baby greatly increase with immediate access to full medical support.

We offer NICU care at both of our hospitals, including: 

  • Level II Intermediate NICU at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, for babies who require short-term intensive care after birth
  • Level III NICU at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, for babies who require critical or more complex medical care