Thursday, October 28, 2010

A question on natural childbirth

Last week I got a question in my inbox prompted by That Post on Natural Childbirth that I haven't had time to answer yet. Around the same time this awesome post: Baggage Check appeared on The Unnecesarean, and it made me think about the same question again. So here's the question:
Given your experience with NCB, and given your wish to avoid both the extreme natural birth advocacy and the dogmatic medical model of birth that's so dominant, what will you tell your girls when they're old enough to be having their own babies (if they choose to have babies)?
I have to admit that I'm not sure what I'll be thinking or feeling about it that many years down the road. But I would say something like this now. "Natural childbirth is not perfect and it's not easy, but it's doable, and it's worthwhile." I didn't have a traumatic birth experience, but I didn't have a conflict-free one either. I didn't glide through it with no effort or emotional distress, but it wasn't anywhere near impossible or as dangerous as we've been taught to believe. And if I hadn't had to consistently resist the medical staff involved, it would have been a lot less stressful. But in the end you can't know how things will go, and you should be prepared to utilize whatever resources you honestly need. The hope is that you can use the technological resources to your benefit rather than being coerced into following a script that requires you to submit to them whether they're necessary and/or helpful or not. And the hope is that you'll come out of the childbirth experience feeling stronger and more confident/supported/heard than you did before. That would be a perfect childbirth experience.


  1. I read somewhere that the amount of pain a woman experiences in childbirth is loosely correlated to how much their culture focuses on the pain and danger of childbirth. In some cultures where they don't view birth as painful and dangerous, women are more likely to experience less pain and characterize it as "discomfort."

  2. Anonymous10/29/2010

    Thank you for this. Some calm and balanced thinking about this topic is exactly what we need.

  3. earthmama11/02/2010

    After one scary and probably unnecessary c-section and two HBACs I wholeheartedly agree with this:
    "Natural childbirth is not perfect and it's not easy, but it's doable, and it's worthwhile."

    It's so worthwhile.

  4. Anonymous11/05/2010

    There's a lot of different ways to get a live baby out of a birth experience. The problem is that the classically prolife attitude that women's needs and desires immediately become irrelveant if they're conflicting in any way with the needs of their child (born or unborn) permeates birth culture. If you give any thought to your birth experience you're being petty, immature, and selfish even though giving birth is a major life experience. But this attitude totally makes sense if you think of the woman as no more than a vessel and caretaker of the child.

  5. That is a wonderful, balanced way of explaining natural childbirth – I totally agree with you. Childbirth IS important, both for mothers and babies, and there is no getting around that. Not being coerced into anything is key, whether that is a c-section or NCB (through social pressure), in my opinion. At the end of the day, each of us have to make our own decisions.

    I'll certainly share my birth experiences, and my reasons for choosing to birth the way I did (one midwife-attened homebirth and one unassisted homebirth) with my daughter, and tell her anything she wants to know. At our house, homebirth is normal, and my daughter only recently found out some people go to hospitals to have babies. But that does not mean I think everybody should birth the way I do, obviously.