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Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Childbirth Secret #1: The Baby is Not Coming Out of Your Butt

Childbirth Secret #1: The Baby is Not Coming Out of Your Butt

BOLD Boston 2007 014

“Birth” in Boston, Massachusetts, 2007


If you’re a mom with young kids any mention of bodily parts and their sounds – butt farts, mouth burps – has the potential to produce roars of laughter that could be heard on a boat off the Swahili coast of Lamu. In 2005 when I wrote my play “Birth”, a portrait of how low-risk mothers are giving birth in America today, the cesarean rate was 25% and rising. Not hugely uplifting material to present to an audience. I needed a laugh desperately. And that’s when I met a mother who gave me playwright mana-from-heaven: butt humor. If it could work on my kids surely it could work on audiences. And it has.

Meet Vanessa:

Women always say, “you’ll forget the pain.” Trust me, even with an epidural, you don’t forget about the pain of a baby coming out of you. How could I forget a sensation that felt like the baby was coming out of my butt? Nobody tells women this. Believe me, you never forget a baby coming out of your butt.

The irony is that for all the belly laughs Vanessa gets from the audience there is a deep truth in her message: mothers are scared out of their butts to give birth.  Of course a baby is not going to come out of a woman’s butt, but how it’s going to get out is the source of endless worry for many pregnant moms.

As a result, moms are running to epidurals and other interventions.  Roughly 50-70% of mothers today have an epidural for pain relief. (Midwifery Today, Issue 95, Autumn 2010). Among the over one hundred mothers I interviewed before writing my play “Birth” most told me they decided to have an epidural simply because everyone else was having one. Nearly one hundred percent of my interview subjects had not researched the risks/benefits of epidurals.  As Judy Slome Cohain, a midwife, points out in her Midwifery Today piece: “Women get epidurals for one of the main reasons so many women smoked pot in the 1970s – their friends are doing it.”

Wait – you mean that a woman who has a PhD in physics and flies all over the world impressing audiences with her knowledge had no idea that epidurals can cause a fever in mother and baby? Probably.

A growing number of doctors tell us pregnant moms are asking for more intervention and that’s why the cesarean rate is now over 30 percent. This may be partly true. But regardless I think the deeper question we must ask is what then is it about our culture that feeds a pregnant mom’s blind rush to grab an intervention? What is the baggage holding women down from having powerful births?

One word: Fear

Again, Vanessa:

GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!!!! I thought I was going to die. Yes. Honestly, I don’t know how women go natural. You don’t get a medal for doing it natural so why do it?


That’s true; women don’t get a medal for giving birth naturally. There is no powerful birth award. So why do it?

One word: Connection.

The clear antidote to counter fear is connection. The more we connect to our bodies – that inner knowing women have that giving birth is normal – then fear dissipates. Try it. Every time you feel fear connect to your body (dance, laugh, take a nap) and what happens? Less fear.

A woman without fear knows how to give birth to a baby. She knows in her bones that she is deeply intuitive.  This is why it is imperative for pregnant women to take an intentional moment every day to stop and listen to their intuition.

Once pregnant women are connected to their bodies then the gates open to something even more delicious: truth.

Here’s the first truth most  pregnant mothers tell me they find after connecting to their bodies: birth is normal. Or, as Ina May Gaskin the mother of midwifery so eloquently put it to pregnant moms:

Your Body is Not A Lemon.

Once we unlock this secret – that our body was meant to push a 6 or 7 or for some mothers a 10-pound baby out of us – the joke of giving birth is on society. Mothers – community by community – can show their friends and family that babies don’t come out of butts, that mothers bodies are perfectly made to give birth and that fear is wasted energy.

Sure, some mothers are high-risk pregnancies. Absolutely. Some pregnant women need high-risk intervention. But let’s be bold and face the fact that the current 30 percent cesarean rate in the United States  – over 15 percent higher than the World Health Organization 5-15% as an optimal cesarean rate for industrialized countries – is not only unnecessary it’s a human rights violation and feeds more fear into pregnant mothers.

Instead of feeding fear, I vote for pregnant mothers feeding connection and embracing truth. Here are three suggestions of how to connect to your intuition when you’re pregnant.

1.     Movement. Spend at least 10-15 minutes every day doing some form of movement even if it’s just to close your bedroom door when you get home and dance around the room with your eyes closed. Look for CDs/DVDs that specifically help you connect to your body, like Toni Bergen’s Journey Dance.

2.     Yoga nidra (otherwise known as: sleep!). Every pregnant woman needs sleep! Yoga nidra is a powerful, guided meditative practice that gives you quality sleep and allows your body to welcome emotions and beliefs for “tea and conversation”. It has helped many people overcome trauma, stress, and connect to their inner knowing. Commit to 10-20 minutes every day. You can purchase CD’s online. Robin Carnes’ CDs are great for the beginner.

3.     Journal. Free-write for 10-15 minutes every day.  Just put your pen down on the paper, no topic, and let your hand write away! You will be surprised where you go. (thank you, Natalie Goldberg!).

Want a transformational challenge? Do one of these three suggestions for 40 consecutive days. Then ask yourself what kind of birth you want.

Back to Vanessa:

Thank God that baby didn’t come out of my butt! The baby was fine when he came out. Totally healthy. Not me…Forth degree tear. They were sewing me up for a long time after the birth. I just wanted to close my legs for one freaking minute. I just wanted to be finished. To be alone with my baby. You know, my body ached to hold him.


Oh, where was my family? They were all in the room with me. Watching football.


Women have key moments in their lives that offer opportunities to seize our authentic selves – to connect. Pregnancy is one of them. Don’t let a good butt joke allow you to miss the moment.

Karen Brody is a writer and founder of BOLD and The My Body Rocks Project. In March she’s offering an online My Body Rocks Pregnancy class and a 40-Day online Yoga Nidra Challenge for Moms (of all ages and stages) around the world who are ready for transformation.  www.boldaction.org and www.mybodyrocksproject.com.

About Karen Brody


Comments (15)

My first birth, an intervention free hospital birth, was rougher than it needed to be because my friends who had also experienced invention-free births said, "It isn't that bad." It was physically and emotionally difficult, and it took me months to realize that it was a really great birth. I had read too much into the idea that some women (hypnotized or not, orgasmic or not) don't experience much pain, so I was too hard on myself when it was incredibly painful and tiring. My second birth, a beautiful, quick waterbirth at home, was still physically difficult, but it was like an emotional high. Going in, I knew that there would be a point at which I thought it was too much, that I would want to give up, that I would not be _able_ to give up, and then it would be over, and I'd have a baby. I had fabulous women with me, reminding me that it was all normal. In fact, I lost lots of blood with the second birth and had to have pitocen to stop bleeding and oxygen, but I KNEW I was okay.
I went in to labour over confident and positive I did not want an epidural. The pain was more then I expected and the scariest part of it was not knowing how long it would last. Thinking that even though it has been going on for over 5 hours that it could possibly go on for another 40! Never did I give in to getting an epidural and just when I thought it was too much I was able to start to push and the pushing was way harder then I expected, I thought it was going to be the fast part but it was about an hour. When my daughter was finally born I can not even describe the feeling of empowerment and pride that I had done it! I dont think any other experience can make a person feel that way. The pain sure didnt matter after she was born b/c the great thing about having a baby is that once the baby is born the pain goes away almost completly. I plan on having another natural birth for our next child.
With my first, I delivered in a freestanding birth center. I remember getting to the point of saying, "I'm done! I don't want to do this anymore!" But after 4hrs of pushing (I had wonderful midwives. I don't know that any doc would ever "allow" a woman to push for 4hrs.), my baby girl was born. I forgot everything I had gone thru and wanted to do it all again!! With baby #2, I delivered at our apartment. I had the same midwives who supported me in moving *everywhere* around that little place. After only 6hrs labor (half as much as my first), I caught my baby girl who was born posterior! Nothing hurt as much as that back labor, but I did it!! And, yes, I still want to do it again!!
My first birth was induced. I went in to the hospital at 6am and they started me on pitocen, iv and antibiotics for group b. I was so hooked up I couldn't move, and that was the worst part. I had an uneventful morning, not much changed. Since it was my first, I didn't really know what to expect. They upped my pitocen and broke my water and before I knew it I was having back to back contractions that were so intense. I tried to stay strong and trust in my body, but I caved and BEGGED for the epidural. Looking back on it now I would have probably been okay if my labor hadn't been induced and my contractions were natural. My son was "sunny-side" up so they had to keep turning him, and after 3 hours of pushing I ended up delivering vacume assited. He was perfect, has had no health issues to date. Not my ideal birthing experience, but none the less a magical moment of my life. My second labor was 100% on it's own. No induction, started contractions at 6pm Thursday evening and continued having irregular contractions at home throughout the night. By 11am I decided they were strong enough to go in to the hospital. When I got there, I was determined to be much more in control of this birthing experience than the first. They checked me and I was already at 7 1/2cm. This empowered me even more to know that I had just remained calm and let my body do the work! I walked, and visited with my family that was awaiting the birth of our second son. The only time I agreed to be connected to any machines was to check baby's heart and contractions. The last time they checked me I was ready to push, they connected my iv, and with 3 pushes my son was born. The most beautiful, life changing experience...exactly the way I had always envisioned giving birth being. I encourage anyone out there who is afraid, to just relax and trust in your body. Your body knows what to do even if you think you don't.
My first birth (this past July) was an epidural-free hospital birth. I'm 35 and waited so long to have kids because of FEAR. Fear of everything! But once we decided to get pregnant, I educated myself with Bradley classes, Ina May's books etc. All of a sudden, I lost the fear and knew I wanted to let my body give birth naturally. I had a very medical-sided OB group so I got the most natural birth I was going to have with them in a hospital (IV, pitocin because my water broke), but I was very happy with it all. My husband told me I was very calm through it all, going into myself even when the pain was at it's worst (7cm). All the nurses were cheering me on - they don't see non-epidurals often - and my husband was my coach (my mom was there too). It was amazing and I believe what you say - FEAR would have changed everything. But I let it go during pregnancy and I had a great birthing experience. Now all we need is a remedy for the sleepless nights! :)
My first was an induction birth in a hospital. After 24 hours of being hooked to an IV, lying in bed, and after having an epidural, I finally gave birth. I pushed for an hour, she was born and I shook violently for another hour. My right leg and right side of my back were numb for almost another 24 hours. My second was much different. I realized around 7 pm at night I was having strong contractions; got to the birth center around 9. My midwife checked me, they broke my water around 1130 pm. I walked around a lot, squatted, bounced on my birthing ball, and finally started pumping. I was in the water 5 minutes after starting pumping and my daughter was born in the water at 338. It was painful... yes. Very. But so much more rewarding than my first! Had I known with my first how it could have been... oh well. No regrets with her birth, but I could never do a hospital birth again, unless it's a medical emergency. I'd do a natural water-birth again in a heartbeat!
I gave birth to my daughter in the hospital without any drugs, epidurals, IVs or anything. It was the biggest most exciting rush of my life, so far :) I decided to do it drug-free after asking a least a dozen women that I knew to describe giving birth. Those that had drugs or epidurals described it as horrible pain and those who went all natural basically said you grit your teeth and get through it. I had a real feeling of power and plan on doing it that way again.
I too waited out if fear. Not so much fear of birth, but fear of child raising. Regardless, I gave birth at 30. Not old, not young. I educated myself (and got educated as well) through Bradley classes and lots of research. I exercised every day up until the day before I went into labor. I wanted to do it MY way. My labor was weird. Felt like I had food poisoning. Water broke around 6 pm. Went to the hospital immediately, threw up all over the car on the way there. Contractions - hard ones - every 90 secs as soon as my water broke. Had to get an IV (group b strep positive). Which made me have to pee a lot. But the way they baby was positioned, I couldn't pee. I was afraid they were going to catherize me, but they didn't. Spent a lot of time on the toilet, trying to pee. And throwing up at the same time. I loved our doula for that. She brought aromatherapy. Nice after you throw up. I labored on the toilet, on a birth ball, in bed. Tried a rocking chair, no good..IV was not an issue at all. I was too busy throwing up to care. It was painful, but not impossible. I was really cold the whole time. The thermostat was cranked all the way up, they piled blankets from the blanket Warmer on me, but I couldn't stop shivering. Guess I was in shock. Baby was born at 1215. So I had a 6 hour labor start to finish. If it had gone on for days, I don't know if I could have handled it, but I had no sense if the passage of time, so maybe it would gave been ok. 3rd degree tear (my son was born with his fist curled up against his face). They sewed me up while they weighed him & my husband cut the cord, etc etc. He never left the room. I watched them do the stitching in the reflection of the ceiling light. Not something most people would be into, but I found it oddly fascinating. If I have another kid, I might try the mirror to watch. No epidural, no interventions, no problems. I did my research, kept in shape & ate well. It all helped I think.
With my first I was interested in a drug-free birth, but did absolutely no research or preparation. I thought I would go to the hospital and "give it a try." I went into labor on a Friday and had contractions over the entire weekend. My water didn't break until Monday morning and then we headed in to the hospital. I handled the contractions all weekend and was doing okay even when we got to the hospital, but I was so EXHAUSTED from not being able to sleep through the contractions over the weekend, that I consented to an epidural. I was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and was stuck in bed all day. I was so numb from the epidural that I couldn't feel which muscles to use to push. My beautiful daughter was born that evening at 5:28 with the assistance of forceps. Not a bad birth, but after connecting with other moms, I knew it could be better. I had a home water birth with my son and it was such an empowering experience! I was planning a hospital water birth initially, but ran into so many road blocks, that I hired midwives at the last minute (about 6 days before I went into labor!) Thankfully I had worked with them before with previous a pregnancy that did not last, so they were not complete strangers. In addition to my midwives, I had a doula, my sister, and my husband. I felt completely supported and surrounded in love. I read The Bradley Way and one of Ina May's book during most of my pregnancy. I learned how to breath and go into myself to handle pain. I practiced and stretched and did all of the exercises and felt ready for my birth. Over the course of a 15 hour labor, I loved that I was able to move around in my own home at my will. I was in and out of the birthing pool, took showers, ate, etc without anyone telling me that it had been long enough and intervention was necessary. It was painful, and I was tired, but I was handling it. Around the 14th hour, things were pretty intense pain-wise and my inner conversation was saying, "hey you tried, let's just go to the hospital." My midwives broke my water and things finally got into gear. I was in less pain while pushing than during all of my contractions. Once I was actively pushing my body just knew what to do. I got on my hands and knees and just let my body handle the rest. He was born in the water and looked so peaceful and relaxed when our eyes met for the first time. I felt great afterward--energized and on a natural high! If we have another one, I would do a home water birth in a heartbeat.
High-risk pregnancy (old, fat, gestational diabetes, fertility treatments). Induced (by midwife) in the hospital with Cytotec, then Pitocin after 36 hours of "non-progressing" labor. Did fine with breathing, baths, etc. until Pitocin, which kicked my ass. 0 to 60 in about 30 seconds. Epidural after maybe an hour (anesthesiologist was the only doctor I saw during labor). Pushed maybe 10-15 minutes. No tears, no episiotomy, no regrets. Wonderful, fabulous son born 7 days after due date, 44 hours of labor.
When people ask me why I decided against a hospital birth, I tell them that I wanted a natural birth and I knew I was going to get one with midwives. Being in a hospital and being given the choice, I probably would have chosen drugs when the pain got to be too much. And it was too much at that breaking point, but my midwife looked at me and said, "Focus, open your eyes, and lets get this baby out!" I so glad that I had been told that childbirth is painful, but that is is "Pain with a Purpose", and that I chose a painful but totally satisfying birth!
I've had 2 kids, both inductions but pain-killer free. Apparently this is supposed to be more painful than simply going into labour naturally and giving birth, but since I have nothing to compare it to, I can't say it was all that bad. With my first they induced me for high blood pressure. They put in the prostaglandin gel. I didn't really feel the first 5cm but then "labour" kicked in and the pain started. From the time they put in the gel to the time I actually pushed her out was only 7 hours. I pushed for a total of about 10 minutes, and that was it. Labour was a breeze. With my second, I was 2 weeks over due and I again had the high blood pressure. This time they did the pitocin, which was awful. The pitocin really did nothing except give me cramps. I knew from the start they would need to break my water because I had tough membranes. My first pregnancy was the same, they broke my water when I was 8cm dialated and I jumped right to fully dialated in one contraction. With my second, his heartrate started to slow during these cramps. They started to talk c-section but decided to check his oxygen level first by testing blood they would take from the top of his head. Of course to do this they had to break my water. Voila! Instant labour. In the time it took them to do the procedure, about half an hour, I went from like 2cm dialated to ready to push, the doctor barely got down the hall before I sent somebody to go get her because I was ready to go. I had my son in less than 45 minutes including pushing (not including all the time I spent having mostly painless and useless "contractions". Both births were short and sweet and to the point. No pain killer needed. The pain was entirely manageable for me. Of course, I didn't experience 36 hours of it or anything, only a matter of 4 hours at the high end. I suppose I'm blessed that way. But my belief is that labour will be shorter and require less intervention if you simply let your body do what it was designed to do. Numbing the pain means your body has no idea what's going on, to me it's like blindfolding somebody behind the wheel of a car. Allowing your body to do it's thing and feel what it's doing increases the chances of giving birth successfully without a c-section. In the end I have 2 children, the first was 8lbs, 3 ounces and the second was a very hefty 10 pounds, 12 ounces (no that's not a typo). Both are happy and healthy!
I don't think it's accurate that all moms who receive assistance with pain during labor are uneducated. I went into my labor with my son with the intentions of going med free. I had read books on the Bradley Method, practiced hypno birthing techniques with cds a friend had let me borrow, had a birth plan in place, done all the research on the pros and cons on various types of intervention... My nurse and husband were very supportive, and I was not afraid of the pain. However, after no sleep for 48 hours when the labor began, and a very difficult 7 hours of labor with only a 1/2 centimeter of progress made, I was physically and mentally exhausted and had an epidural, and don't regret my decision. I'm now pregnant with my 2nd child and would again like to try for a med free birth, but I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. The only thing I do regret from my first is this lingering feeling of failing because I couldn't do it without meds, when others I knew could and it seems like so many people online praise their med free experience. I made an educated, and I believe best for me, decision during my labor but don't like how sometimes I feel like I failed. I think there should be more support everywhere for all moms who go through the labor and delivery process. Everyone's birth experience is personal and triumphant in its own way, and I think more should be done to encourage education, but support everyone in their own individual decisions.
I had 2 amazing birth experiences but I must begin when I was a baby. I grew up around women who had had natural childbirths and home births. They were my inspirations and I never once thought that I would not be able to do it like them. I had no fear like so many women have...I feel bad for them. I knew it would be hard, sometimes seemingly impossible but nothing that I could not do. I have inspired one of my friends to have a home birth where I was asked to attend. She said it was the best gifts she has ever received and I feel the same too. Positive women role models telling their natural birth stories over and over again is what we all need to do to lessen the fear of childbirth. My first birth was a hospital birth with no interventions. I woke in the morning to my water breaking and since I had no contractions, my husband and I went on my favorite hike. It was the only time I beat him up the trail. I was determined to get contractions going. It worked! I labored at home for a long time before my doula said it was probably time to go to the hospital. Everyone thought that I would labor thru the night but by 8:30p, we had a baby. By far the most amazing, empowering, confidence building, emotional, and hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. I did it again but at home less than 2 years later and if I wanted more children, I would do it again! At home was refreshing. I love telling my kids how and where they were born. I let them know how hard it was and how rewarding it was too.
There is evidently a bunch to realize about this. I feel you made various nice points in features also.
Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Childbirth Secret #1: The Baby is Not Coming Out of Your Butt