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What do you consider NCB--and would you have said something?

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
This actually happened to me quite a while ago, but I just thought of it now.

I was talking to an acquaintance of mine at a kid's function. Her first child was born around the same time as mine and although I didn't know all the details of her labor and birth, she had mentioned several times that she had a natural childbirth.

For this particular conversation we were talking about labor/childbirth in a group of people. The group consisted of mostly crunchy types--all of whom had done NCB, several waterbirths, homebirths, etc. In fact, among the group there was a Bradley instructor and a doula-in-training. Basically, every mom was pretty well-versed.

Anyway, it comes out over the course of the conversation that although this one mom did not have an epidural, she had something (narcotics, I assume?) in her IV. She said when the nurse asked her if she wanted something for the pain she said "heck yah".

You can imagine everyone's reaction because for the last 2 or 3 years we had all assumed that when she said she had a NCB she meant an completely unmedicated birth. Not just "no epidural". Other than the stunned looks, no one said anything.

In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't say anything because it's really not my business, but I am slightly concerned that this woman might be spreading misinformation to FTMs about what NCB actually is. I am not trying to one-up anyone, but to be completely honest, I would sooner take an epidural or spinal than take the IV narcotics that could get into the baby's system.

So, what do you consider a NCB? Have you ever come across people that have a looser definition than you do? Is there an "official" or commonly accepted definition?

FWIW, I had an unmedicated hospital birth. So, I guess that's where I draw my line--no drugs before the baby was born. I did have a shot for bleeding afterwards. If I had had an IV (say with antibiotics for GBS) I think I would still consider that a NCB. Same with AROM although I wouldn't choose to have that done, in general. I sort of dislike the term NCB because it's kinda vague so I usually just say I had an unmedicated birth.
post #2 of 56
NCB to me means no pain meds and no induction (though AROM would be kind of a grey area, but mostly I just mean no pitocin or the like).

I've known some people IRL to use "natural birth" interchangeably with "vaginal birth".
post #3 of 56
I probably would not say anything in a situation like you described....but it is true, in this era people interchange 'NCB' with 'vag birth'.
post #4 of 56
I don't think it is my business to say anything to people who think that they have had a natural birth, when in fact all they mean is that had a vaginal birth. I do think the general (hospital?) practice of calling any vaginal birth "natural childbirth" is setting a dangerous precedent of normalizing and "naturalizing" drugs in childbirth though, making it that much more difficult to refuse them.
post #5 of 56
I consider NCB to be no epidural. I'm honestly not sure on whether I consider that a shot of narcotics eliminates it from being "natural." I dont' know enough about them. (I know nausea is a side effect & I get nauseous easily & consider it a MORE unpleasant sensation than pain, so there's no way I would have opted for it, so I'm not really well informed.)

I think often people use "NCB" = "Vag birth" because they don't feel comfortable saying "vaginal." So I think it depends on the context - such as speaking with the human resources lady at work about time off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post
I do think the general (hospital?) practice of calling any vaginal birth "natural childbirth" is setting a dangerous precedent of normalizing and "naturalizing" drugs in childbirth though, making it that much more difficult to refuse them.
Well, I don't think it is "setting" the precedent - I think that precedent has already been set. The fact alone that like 98% of births in America are in hospitals, over 32% are CS, of the remaining vaginal, something like 60% of those are induced or augmented with pit and I think it's at least 70% that get epidurals. HB is considered dangerous, crazy, and fringe, and "OB" is simply synonymous with "maternity care provider." (I think MWs attend only about 8% of births in the US.)

I think we have already come to that bridge and crossed it a long, long time ago. Actually, I think we are in the midst of crossing the bridge where CS is normalized & considered just as safe, for both mom & baby as vag birth (a past president of ACOG said exactly that.)
post #6 of 56
I don't think I would have said anything to that mom because she is telling people she had a NCB. Even though I may not consider getting any pain relief whilst in labor still natural. She may be saying she had a NCB to others which gives them hope, not necessarily that you can have other drugs (because as you said she never really ellaborated).

And yeah people do have a problem saying vaginal
post #7 of 56
I consider NCB to be unmedicated, vaginal, and with no interventions. Like the OP, I would still consider an IV to be natural, if it were just abx for GBS or just saline.

Where I live, which I think is a fairly high C-section area, natural just means "out the vagina," regardless of what drugs or interventions were used.
post #8 of 56
lol One friend of my MIL's told me she had a drug-free birth because she only got nubane (or something - I can't remember now), since she'd had some sort of spinal injury that the anesthesiologist determined made epidural too risky. I don't really worry about what people consider "natural". It's none of my business. I don't personally consider drugs "natural" but I don't really care what someone else wants to call their birth, you know? I have always thought it was hilarious, though, that the particular woman I'm referring to didn't just call her birth "natural" but actually called it "drug-free" even though she got IV narcotics. That's so funny to me.
post #9 of 56
I had no epidural, no pain meds of any sort, but I do not consider my daughter's birth to have been natural because it was induced and augmented. I think induction drugs are wayyyyyyy less natural than pain relief because they are by definition meant to make the labor proceed differently than it naturally would.
post #10 of 56
Maybe the "stunned looks" and "everyones reaction" is what keeps her from talking more about her experience. Maybe she feels judged, and if so, my heart goes out to her, it would be hard to feel that you were judged by your friends for how you chose to birth.
post #11 of 56
I agree there are lots of definitions. For me *personally* I would describe my birth as natural if I had no pain medication, no augmentation of labour and no instrumental assistance. As some other PPs have said, I would still describe my experience as natural if I had IV ABs or fluids.

I was a bit surprised to read, on another forum I frequent, an update on some one who had had a baby. The person posting the news said "... a lovely natural birth, with just a bit of help from the vaccuum". I personally do not consider a vacuum delivery a natural birth. I guess maybe she meant that up until that point there had been no intervention but, if she considers vacuum extraction natural then I really don't know for sure. I wouldn't say anything to them but privately I disagree with that definition of natural.

ETA - if someone said to me that their birth was "drug free" but they had NO/narcotics/epidural then, yes, I would say something but I would try to do it in a nonjudgemental way.
post #12 of 56
I dunno, I think in so many ways this sounds like a spitting contest YKWIM? Its like women need to compete to see who has the "best" birth...with "best" having many definitions depending on the crowd. The OP sounds very judgy to me ("stunned looks" and then producing her credentials). Why do we all feel such a need for one-upmanship? So many crunchy mommies are tramatized because their births do not go as they wished, and then they/we are made to somehow feel impure because of it.

So now that I have probably offended everyone...sorry.
post #13 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
I dunno, I think in so many ways this sounds like a spitting contest YKWIM? Its like women need to compete to see who has the "best" birth...with "best" having many definitions depending on the crowd. The OP sounds very judgy to me ("stunned looks" and then producing her credentials). Why do we all feel such a need for one-upmanship? So many crunchy mommies are tramatized because their births do not go as they wished, and then they/we are made to somehow feel impure because of it.

So now that I have probably offended everyone...sorry.
post #14 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post
ETA - if someone said to me that their birth was "drug free" but they had NO/narcotics/epidural then, yes, I would say something but I would try to do it in a nonjudgemental way.
But wouldn't you be afraid that would hurt their feelings? I don't really care what someone calls their own birth. It's their experience and they can define it however they want. I thought it was funny that someone said a birth with narcotics was drug-free. I didn't say anything to her, though. I just giggled about it when I was alone later. If I'd said something to her, she would've felt like I was calling her stupid or something, I think.
post #15 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
I dunno, I think in so many ways this sounds like a spitting contest YKWIM? Its like women need to compete to see who has the "best" birth...with "best" having many definitions depending on the crowd. The OP sounds very judgy to me ("stunned looks" and then producing her credentials). Why do we all feel such a need for one-upmanship? So many crunchy mommies are tramatized because their births do not go as they wished, and then they/we are made to somehow feel impure because of it.

So now that I have probably offended everyone...sorry.
Actually, I quite agree.

Personally, when I say "natural childbirth" I mean just me doing what is natural to make it all happen. However, if for some reason I felt the need to actually take some sort of pain med (which I was actually really wanting for the first time with this birth), not an epidural, I would have still considered it "natural" since it was not induced, augmented, or "assisted" and produced a baby vaginally.

I actually had this very discussion with my OB about what she considers "natural childbirth" (which, by the way she totally interchanges with vaginal). I don't really have a problem with someone having that concept of "natural". Who am I to judge them?
post #16 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plummeting View Post
But wouldn't you be afraid that would hurt their feelings? I don't really care what someone calls their own birth. It's their experience and they can define it however they want. I thought it was funny that someone said a birth with narcotics was drug-free. I didn't say anything to her, though. I just giggled about it when I was alone later. If I'd said something to her, she would've felt like I was calling her stupid or something, I think.
I guess it would depend on the individual circumstances and how well I knew the person.

I think people have the right to make their own decisions but I kind of do mind when people say inaccurate things like narcotics = drug free. I don't like myths and misconceptions about health care being started/perpetuated. I am *totally* ok with a person making an informed decision to have a narcotic during labour but, they can't have it both ways. Either they had the drug *or* they had a drug free birth. Either is their choice but I don't see that distinction as being subjective.

The term "natural birth" however, I think is more subjective and I would be interested to explore what people's definitions were and why. But only because I was interested, not to prove them wrong or judge them or anything. So, in that, case I might say something to find out more about their views.
post #17 of 56
Nope, I would never have said anything.

If there is anything 'un'natural about a birth, necessary or not, it's not NCB. Just simply by definition. Regardless of how I, or anyone else, birthed.
post #18 of 56
I know people who use the term "natural" because they can't stand to say "vaginal", as opposed to a section. I try to be specific and refer to "vaginal" birth or "drug-free" depending on the conversation. I consider "natural" childbirth to mean no medical interventions. Something I've only done once, arguably twice out of 4, and I'm ok with that.
I think the OP's issue was the usage of the word. If you have an epidural, is it a natural birth? Personally, I wouldn't label it that way. I really do hope this lady didn't "hide" that fact out of fear of being judged. Every woman has the right to her experience, and the "crunchy" tendency to judge is just as bad as the mainstream one.
post #19 of 56
To-may-to, to-mah-to.

NCB is defined differently by everyone who says it, even if it's just in subtle ways.
Even your unmedicated birth might not be "natural" by some peoples' definitions, since you were in a hospital.

I wouldn't have said anything.
post #20 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
I dunno, I think in so many ways this sounds like a spitting contest YKWIM? Its like women need to compete to see who has the "best" birth...with "best" having many definitions depending on the crowd. The OP sounds very judgy to me ("stunned looks" and then producing her credentials). Why do we all feel such a need for one-upmanship? So many crunchy mommies are tramatized because their births do not go as they wished, and then they/we are made to somehow feel impure because of it.
Agreed.
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