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Friday, March 14, 2014

Natural Childbirth Should Be Normal... Unfortunately, It's Not.

Natural childbirth should be normal... unfortunately, it's not. A majority of births are treated with interventions, medical protocol and procedures that would best be used in abnormal situations. And natural births rarely occur unless the mother - in addition to being low-risk - has also gone out of her way to seek out/ pay for/ demand one, despite the systematic push-back for a medicated birth.

Yes, I am a natural childbirth advocate. And I won't apologize for it. There are women who have delivered in hospitals who might believe that I am criticizing their choices and their deliveries, while revering my own deliveries in a birth center, but this could not be any further from the truth. Because I have cried tears of heartbreak for every friend who has admitted feeling unsure about the outcome of their deliveries, and guilty that they even feel that way, since after all, the only justifiable end goal is a "healthy" baby and mama, and that's what they got. Because I know they deserve more, even if they don't feel like they do. Because every woman deserves what I had (and treasure) - a shot at a natural childbirth.

Now many people get caught up in the idea of what they think natural childbirth is. A martyr attempting a risky at home delivery to put her ideals above the safety of her child? Possibly just a disillusioned woman who for some unknown reason would rather experience the pain than to have a relaxing stress-free birth. That is not what I advocate for. THIS is what I was so blessed to experience with my own deliveries. THIS is what I am fighting for. THIS is how I define natural childbirth.

I define natural childbirth as arming mom with the knowledge, giving her the support, and providing her with a comfortable setting and tools so that her labor progresses naturally, in as much comfort as possible.

I define it as normal birth... NOT medically induced and treated birth.

I define it as accepting the intensity and discomfort of labor knowing that in turn the mother often gains empowerment and confidence in her ability to deliver her baby... NOT assuming that a mother will be unable to handle the pain, setting her up to be scared and anxiously accepting of pain medication.

I define it as letting the woman find positions and use techniques that best relieve her labor pains and allowing her to deliver in the position that feels most comfortable, pushing when the contractions guide her body to do so... NOT forcing her into a bed to labor, into stirrups to deliver, and pushing on the doctor's count because it is easier for the provider to monitor and deliver.

I define it as trusting a mother's body to do what it was designed to do... NOT leaving it up to a healthcare provider who acts under the assumption that the mother's body is ill-equipped to naturally deliver a baby and inflicts intervention upon intervention while their own system creates a self-fulfilled prophecy.

I define it as a mother centered process, where she is provided the options and allowed to make decisions about her body and her baby... NOT a provider and facility centered process, where the mother is simply informed of what they are going to do based on what is most efficient, convenient or legally safe for them and their practices.

I define it as emphasis not only on the outcome (getting the baby out), but also on the process and aftermath (the condition of the mother, how she feels, how soon baby can be placed on mama to bond, her recovery)...

I define it as midwives and doulas working hand in hand with obstetricians, each specializing in their own art and playing equally important roles; midwives and doulas supporting the mother in the process of normal labor in the majority of births, and, less commonly, the need for obstetricians specializing in interventions and procedures only when nature fails...

Nature's design can work so beautifully, if only given the chance. But our culture regarding childbirth, and the system that supports it has to change. Pregnancy is a miracle to be nurtured into the birth of a new being - not a cancer to be extracted from the body. Women need to find their voice, and demand to be treated differently; to have a different experience. Only then will natural childbirth become what it once was - normal.

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