or Connect
Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Honestly- Natural Birth ROCKS

Honestly- Natural Birth ROCKS

700Written by Mothering contributor Sarah Clark.

 

I know there is a lot of this mentality out there:

"I'm OK.  You're OK.  There are no wrong choices, just choices.  Do what works for you."

You are going to hate me, but that just isn't how my mind works.  I have a more black and white view of the world. 

I know, so old fashioned, I still believe in right and wrong.  This isn't to say that I think I am better than somebody because I think I did the right thing and I think they did the wrong thing.  Quite the contrary.  I am fully aware of the FACT that I do the wrong thing all the time.  I know this because A) I believe in right and wrong so I see how wrong I am constantly, and B) my husband likes to point it out.  BOO!  (That sucks by the way.)

Things get funny when it comes to birth.  To be truthful, though I am pretty passionate and opinionated about birthy type stuff, I don't think most of it has a moral basis.  It isn't morally wrong to schedule a c-section and bottle feed, just like it isn't morally right to have a natural birth and nurse on demand.  At least in my mind.  To me these are choices- but not something that you could burn in hell for.  (I just realized how totally wacky this post is.)

BUT- even though I don't believe choosing one mode of birth over another is grounds for heaven or hell, I do believe that there are "better" choices in these matters.

(Get prepared to hate me.  Are you ready?  Good.)

I think that natural birth (real natural, not just "I birthed without medications but I was forced on my back and everybody was staring at a monitor and yelling at me how to do it and the doctor yanked on the babies head" natural) is superior to medicated birth most of the time.  I think that drugs interfere with the normal physiological process of birth in a negative way.

Sometimes I can prove this with studies, sometimes not.  I can admit that.  But even if there are studies out there that say that epidurals don't increase c-section rates or that hospital birth is tons safer than home birth (yes I have read those ones too), I can't say I am too concerned.  Why?  Because I believe something.  I believe in natural birth. 

Now, we like to think that we believe stuff because we can prove it.  This is often not the case.  Actually, it seems like most of us just believe what we WANT to believe, evidence be darned.  (Yes I just said darn.  I am working on my swearing problem.)  I am no different, and frankly, you probably aren't either.

Sometimes people tell me I am too opinionated on this birth stuff.  Sometimes it is mentioned that I should be more accepting of various birth choices.  "What is right for you isn't right for everybody" gets thrown out there.  Maybe people think that I am being judgmental when I say, "Natural birth is better."

Here is the thing though- I really do think it is better.  I think, if possible, mothers and babies are better off if they birth in a supportive, loving, environment and do so without the "aid" of drugs to speed or numb them or fill their veins with fluid or drain their bodies of urine.

I can't always prove it, but I still believe it.  Why?  Because I have done it, and I know what it can be like.  I try to communicate that to people.  In fact I try so hard that I spend (waste?!) hours slamming away on these plastic letters in an effort to tell people how birth can be awesome. 
Does this mean I think women are somehow less or morally remiss if they choose or enjoy surgical, medicated, or induced birth?  Actually, no it doesn't.  But understanding why people sometimes make choices I disagree with doesn't mean I have to agree with them.

Can't I "get" why epidurals are used and still think they are lame?  Can't I understand the desire for induction and still think babies should come when ready?  (Have I mentioned my two babies a week and a half late?  It sucked.)  Can't I see why somebody would desire a c-section and still think that this is riskier?

I guess I could say things like this,

"I support women in all their birth choices, a planned medically unnecessary c-section might be right for you.  We are all on different paths."


Except, I don't really believe that.  I DO believe we should all have choices.  I do not want my choices taken from me or from you.  I do think we are all on different paths.  I just think a healthy natural birth is an freaking fantastic choice and I think it is safer and healthier. 

I could try to sound supportive of all the choices out there, but I would be lying.  I think there is TONS of support out there to get an epidural.  Most hospitals have epidurals of what, 80%?  If you want to find somebody to tell you that they love epidurals, you won't have to go far.

But I am not going to tell you I love epidurals.  I could say that a scheduled c-section is a viable choice for a woman who has had a traumatic birth or who is afraid of birth or who has been abused.  Guess what, I totally understand why people make these choices. (Holy freak people, I have real life friends who had and loved epidurals!  I don't think I am better than them!  I am not totally nuts!  I just like natural birth!!!!)

OR- I could tell women that they CAN do this.  I could tell them that they are strong.  I could tell them that they are powerful.  I could tell them that they are capable of things beyond what they know.  I could tell them that overcoming the pain of birth and pushing past their own weakness, will give them inner strength that they had no idea they had.  I could tell them that they should try like hell to change the system rather than submitting to it- - even though it is easier to submit.   

I would rather change the system so that women could have good natural births more easily and more safely.  I would rather we learned to fight than give in.  I would have us know triumph over a legacy of machismo and paternalism rather than submitting to that system and calling it a choice.  (Woah, got cheesy again.  Oops.)

To me, supporting THE epidural and THE c-section and THE current obstetric model of care is NOT supporting women.  It is a backwards way of saying, "You can't do it on your own.  You just are not that strong." 

 

I think we are that strong.

So let me break it down.  

I believe that natural birth is the best way to birth when possible.

It doesn't bother me when people disagree.  (Except for Dr Lisa and another so called doctor online, but I digress again.)

I don't think less of people when they choose differently even though I think some of those interventions are lame.  

I understand why people choose differently and I understand why somebody might think I was wrong.

But I still am sure I am right.
 

Yeah, that's about it. 

 (This post appeared originally on Mama Birth on November 13th, 2011)

 

Sarah Clark is a mother of four naturally birthed children.  Wife of a chiropractor, she lives in northern California and is mostly a mom but also a writer on her natural birth blog (Mama Birth), a natural birth teacher, and a natural birth teacher trainer.  She also is on the management team for Birth Boot Camp, a natural birth education company offering online and in-person birth classes.

Comments (13)

I totally agree! A lot of people/organization won't take a stance as strongly as you have and I just think it's double awesome. First, that it's for an occasion as powerful and life-changing as giving birth and second that you're willing to be hated for something you believe in.
Amen...and I'm not generally religious.
LOVE it!
I used to teach English 101 and one of the biggest challenges I had was explaining the difference between an opinion and an argument. What it came down to, really, wasn't that one is based in one person's idiosyncratic thought process and the other is based in facts, data, or persuasive rhetoric; the key was that the audience has no stake in caring about the former while the latter provides concrete and relevant reasons for the audience to take interest in the topic at hand. This piece strikes me as the worst kind of navel-gazing. Of course the writer can believe whatever she wants about natural birth vs. any other kind of birth. We all have that right. What I don't understand is why I'm supposed to care about what this particular writer believes.
"I think that natural birth (real natural, not just 'I birthed without medications but I was forced on my back and everybody was staring at a monitor and yelling at me how to do it and the doctor yanked on the babies head' natural) is superior to medicated birth most of the time."
This strikes me a supremely obnoxious and judgmental. I say that as someone who is a huge fan of natural birth, and whose birth was peaceful until the last 5 minutes, which were on my back and more chaotic (no head-yanking, though). So because of that it wasn't "natural" birth? Wow. I see that the author has peppered her post with disclaimers that people are going to "hate her" for being "honest", but that tactic doesn't make her brave. Just close-minded. Not something that I would look for in a birth teacher.
interesting way to put it out there but i agree with you. i ended up on my back but my birth was still in my control. i had a doula and my husband and mother and father there to make sure of that. it wasn't perfect but it was much better than an alternative! hopefully i can be even *more* natural this time around!
Preach it, lady! This pretty well describes what I fell, except that I allowed myself to be pressured into a epi by my frightened husband. I still had a fabulous birth, just the 12 hrs of numbness really sucked. That's a big part of the reason I have such strong feelings about natural birth, though.
I couldn't agree more with the author! I'm in the states and my first birth was the typical, induction, epi, lay on your back spread eagle for a bunch of white suited drs and nurses and such. everybody telling me what I could and couldnt do, what to do when. you get the picture. I went with the flow on my daughter. thats all the norm. you get pregnant, you go to the ob and do everything they tell you. At least thats what i thought. anyway,  I COULD NOT GET OUT OF THERE FAST ENOUGH! I insisted the next day I go home instead of their standard two days because I couldnt stand it there any longer. I'm now currently pregnant and planning a home water birth this time and doing all the research I can. I WILL be informed and I WILL make choices. I feel before I was completely uninformed and I think often this is the case with many woman. we DO have power, we DO have strength. we CAN birth naturally!
 
"To me, supporting THE epidural and THE c-section and THE current obstetric model of care is NOT supporting women.  It is a backwards way of saying, "You can't do it on your own.  You just are not that strong." 
   This is exactly how I feel. Drs fully support and even push much of this stuff, in other words saying women can't do it on their own...Well guess what! I'm doin it without them this time!
Hello Sarah,
 
I have to admit I agree with a lot of what you're saying. It's hard not to sound like you're passing judgement when speaking an opinion as passionately as you have, but wish more people had the same stance. 
I am the mother of one, and recently found out we're expecting our second in June next year. I live in Japan, a country that still 100% supports, and in someways insists on natural child birth. If you want an epidural you have to order it 6 months before your birth, and it costs a fortune! There's no gas and air, and most hospitals won't do episiotomy's unless it's an emergency. I would have always chosen the natural child birth route, but being in a country that supports it so much made it so much easier I feel. 
If you haven't already look into the status in Japan. I think you may find it interesting. 
Take care! 
Fiona
I totally agree that Natural Birth is Better!
 
Disclaimer:  I have yet to conceive my first child, but I plan to try for a natural birth when my time comes. My husband and I have just started trying to conceive and I am doing a lot of research on my options for childbirth.
 
If you haven't done so already, I recommend watching the documentary "The Business of Being Born" by Ricki Lake. You can find it on YouTube. It is very interesting and thought provoking.
 
Best wishes to you all!
 
Rojita
Rojita, I would strongly recommend reading "Birthing from within" written by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. It truly continued to keep me motivated and confident in my decisions to birth naturally. It was a spiritual journey in itself. 
Fiona
Well done article!  I was 18 when I had my first, and my nurse was literally pissed at me for refusing an epidural. It made her job harder.  The doctor told me that I was too young to know and if he was a woman he would have a tattoo on his back that said place epidural here... I made it all natural but it didn't feel that way at all.  I was on my back, the nurse wouldn't let me get up because of all the iv cords and fetal monitors connected to me.  It was so intensely scary. My nurse hated me and was avoiding my husband and I.  My second child wasn't quite as scary, but I was still on my back hooked up to machines and monitors when I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy.  I was only allowed a ten minute shower when I was four centimeters dilated.  That water felt so amazing the nurse had to force me out of it constantly knocking on the bathroom door. YUCK!!   And I didn't get to hold my baby for four hours after he was born because they said he was too cold.  I asked if I could just cuddle our naked bodies together and they looked at me like I was crazy.  If only women knew what they could have.  I understand what you are saying and I completely agree.
Love this article. I would like to hear more about if/how a doula can help. I am thinking about having one.
Great article!  I know how you feel and agree….. I've had a hospital birth with a midwife and complications and a home birth in water and the home birth just rocked big time!!!  The best thing ever.  Search out water birth international for a birth tub they can send you to birth in at home. The water temperature stays perfect……… It is the best way to go.  Find a midwife and a doula and you're set.  It's not necessarily easy to find them but keep looking and you will.
Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Honestly- Natural Birth ROCKS