A holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth has the following characteristics:
- Considers all aspects of an individual, including the body, mind, and spirit. A holistic pregnancy and childbirth recognizes the impact of the mind and spirit, as well as the physical body, on the experience of pregnancy and birth. Physical health, values and beliefs, relationships, emotional wellbeing, and spirituality all affect pregnancy and birth. In turn, the experiences of pregnancy and birth influence body, mind, and spirit.
- Trusts the natural progression. A holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth also recognizes that a woman's body is naturally designed to conceive, nourish, and give birth to a baby. It trusts the natural progression of pregnancy and labor.
- Starts with least invasive approach but uses the full range of therapies as needed. A holistic approach to childbearing includes both low-intervention approaches and the appropriate use of technology in a thoughtful and well-considered manner. A holistic approach respects the normal processes of pregnancy and birth, but recognizes the need for assistance if appropriate. Each situation is unique, requiring individual choices and care.
Note: a holistic approach is not "natural childbirth," which, as a term has widely different meaning, including a complete avoidance of medication or interventions.
- Incorporates integrative therapies. A holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth includes the use of integrative therapies (also known as alternative or complementary therapies) to prevent or treat common discomforts and complications of pregnancy, in a way that is consistent with the belief system of the patient.