Thanks, JesseMomme & minkajane, for being bold enough to post what I've been too chicken to post...I, too, feel that most nonmedicated hospital births aren't "natural."
What does "natural" mean? Vaginal, yes. I think it also always means drug-free. Most importantly, it describes a labor and birth process that does not have any unwanted or unneccesary interference.
Not to be crude or gross, but indulge me while I use an example free of the politics of birth, or the anger at the attending OB & drug-pushing L&D RNs on duty or whatever:
For example, today I took a poop naturally. I didn't need drugs to get it going, or to ease discomfort during, and I didn't have anyone watching me, making me anxious. I pushed in whatever way I needed to, I felt safe and secure in my own bathroom, and in fact, this was such a natural and private event, it feels wierd talking about it here. My culture dictates that I pooped on a toilet, and wiped my bum with toilet paper, wheras a natural bm in another culture might be in the woods, or might be with water to rinse off afterwards.
I think that's what a natural bowel movement involves. I think a natural birth experience shares quite a few similarities, namely: no drugs, no cutting, no probing, no observation. Sometimes my kids like me to keep them company while they poop. Sometimes I have a kiddo near me, or dh brushing teeth in the bathroom while I poop...and I think many times natural-birthing women have birth supporters, not observers or interveners, in their midst.
There's a group of mamas who call non-messed-with births "pure births", and I think that's an apt term.
I think it's very important that a non-"natural" birth be recoginzed as a valued, potentially wonderful event. A c-section birth is unnatural
...and that's why it's great
. Women and babies dying in childbirth is natural; babies malpositioned such that they can never be born, so they die in the womb, that is natural. That doesn't make it good.
A natural birth is not automatically a good birth. A non-natural birth can be a good birth. A natural birth is an intervention-free birth. A non-natural birth has interventions. Most USA births involve lots of interventions; many of them drugs, and so most USA births aren't "natural." Many interventions are not "good", like episiotomies, and women think painmed-free births are unusual/unreal, and so "natural" has come to mean "good." (You can buy Natural Cheetos
...."natural" don't mean a dang thang!)