Vaginal delivery does not equal Natural Childbirth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Noun: natural childbirth 'nachurul 'chIld`burth
Labour and childbirth without medical intervention; no drugs are given to relieve pain or aid the birth process
I feel like this is an important subject to bring up. There seems to be an increasing number of people who equate a vaginal delivery with the use of drugs and various interventions with Natural Childbirth. This is simply not the case. I see this trend as a small tragedy for women and for birth. It shows to me that women are being influenced by the mainstream medical model to such an extreme they do not even know what Natural Family Living is any longer.
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#2 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:35 PM
 
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I agree.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#3 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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Va-gi-nal Come, on, ya can say it, my wife had a vaginal childbirth! LOL. I usually get it from the dads...
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#4 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:40 PM
 
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I had a friend who was induced, but went without drugs for pain relief, and she considered her childbirth "natural." I figure, to each her own. I'm not a purist, but it is misleading or confusing when everyone makes up a definition for herself.
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#5 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:44 PM
 
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I think it is just as natural for humans as a species to have intervention as to not have it. The vast majority of us do naturally seek out others to assist if needed in our births. That is our instinct and it makes sense seeing how often things can go wrong as they can go right.
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#6 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 09:52 PM
 
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Yeah, I agree. I think for some it's the inability to say "vaginal birth". I've even known some people to say that ALL birth is natural, including c-sections. Uh, ok whatever.

Natural birth is what happens when you give birth by yourself. There are shades of gray, though. I mean, I consider my midwife-attended home births to be natural since no medications were used. I did have interventions of the monitoring variety, but I don't feel that those alter the course of labor and therefore am comfortable including them under the umbrella of natural childbirth.

I've hashed this out on other boards. Some moms get really distraught and feel like it's some kind of value judgment. For me it's just a definition. And there are circumstances that warrant intervention into the process. That doesn't mean it is a bad birth because it is "unnatural".

In general I'll use "natural childbirth" and "unmedicated childbirth" to describe a vaginal birth without medications. "Unmedicated" can also refer to a birth without pain meds even if other meds were used (like pitocin).

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#7 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't refer to my unmedicated birth as "natural" even because she was born in a hospital, which was a wildly unnatural setting. I had no interventions, no medications. But I did have vaginal checks and it was a fairly cold sterile environment, and I was instructed to be on my back for the final pushing stages.

So even though, many, including my labor doula call that a natural childbirth, I call it an unmedicated or intervention free birth. BUT I don't get offended or correct people who will call it a Natural Childbirth. I do however get very sad to hear women who have inductions, epidurals, their water broken by the OB and other interventions call their birth "natural".
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#8 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 10:11 PM
 
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I have no problem with this definition. I've had 3 c-sections and 2 vaginal births (vbac) that were in no way natural. I'm glad I had them (the vbacs). I'm don't feel like I'm less of a woman. But they were not "natural." They were highly managed.

It's a description, not a judgment.

In situations where I did not feel comfortable saying "vaginal" I've said, "ya know, regular." Cracks me up when I think about it now.
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#9 of 164 Old 11-15-2007, 11:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kappa View Post
I had a friend who was induced, but went without drugs for pain relief, and she considered her childbirth "natural." I figure, to each her own. I'm not a purist, but it is misleading or confusing when everyone makes up a definition for herself.
I face possible induction and if I must do so, will be going though labor and vaginal delivery without pain meds. Dang straight I'll call it natural childbirth. It is not a "made up definition."

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#10 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 12:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MoreThanApplesauce View Post
I face possible induction and if I must do so, will be going though labor and vaginal delivery without pain meds. Dang straight I'll call it natural childbirth. It is not a "made up definition."
Sure it is. There a many quoted on this thread that say an intervention like induction does not equal natural. I'm saying, to each her own. Don't get defensive, you can call your labor whatever you want, but many people will be led to believe that you had no interventions if you call it "natural." All I'm saying is you are misleading (some) people, but it's your experience you can call it whatever you want. At the end of the day it's nobody's business, and lord help them if they care that much!
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#11 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 01:44 AM
 
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I had an Unnatural cesarean, and then a semi-natural HBAC. Yes, it was an HBAC, which meant no drugs or interventions... but I did take castor oil, black and blue cohosh, etc. Those aren't exactly natural. I was trying to interfere with mother nature to speed things along.

But, when talking casually, I DO refer to that as a natural childbirth.

The first was no pain meds (until a general anesthetic for the surgery), but I labored with pitocin, magnesium sulfate and an IV. Hardly natural, but... no pain meds. Whatever that's worth.

Danell - Craft Savvy mama to Evan (3/31/06) and Andre (8/29/07)
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#12 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 01:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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congrats on your hbac! That's great.
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#13 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 02:11 AM
 
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it makes sense seeing how often things can go wrong as they can go right.
IMO, with biologically normal, unhindered birth that is not the case at all. When birth is institutionalized, yes, things do go wrong a lot, but birth works when left alone.

I don't care for the term natural all that much. I believe that "natural" birth is more of a cultural construct. What's natural for someone in culture might be very different in another. I usually say unmedicated or drug-free But generally, I just say birth

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#14 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 02:24 AM
 
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I had both of my children in hospitals. I had my first without drugs and vaginally, and I generally call it "natural," even though being hooked up to a monitor and an IV doesn't seem all that natural. But I feel proud that I managed my labor pain (only because I begged, and I mean begged, to use the rocking chair for most of the labor - I had to do the transition labor on the bed on my side because my blood pressure was high), and it felt like I was really giving birth when I pushed my dd out.

This is in contrast to giving birth to my second child with the epidural. Yes, it was pain-free (numbness would be that), but it seemed wrong, weird, and surreal to be lying in bed, strapped to a bunch of things, watching Oprah and waiting until it was time to push - until they told me it was. And when I pushed, I felt nothing! (It was amazing I was able to push my ds out - I had no idea what I was doing.) So, that birth felt a lot less "natural."

Ironically, my older child, the one I delivered "naturally," didn't nurse, and my younger one did. That's because the second hospital was "family friendly," at least when it came to nursing and making sure it happened.

I'm envious of all you who did homebirths. If I were to have a 3rd, that's how I would do it. But, I'm too old and don't have the energy for a 3rd. :

I'm not sure what my point is. I guess it's that, even in a hospital setting, the birth without drugs felt a lot more natural than the one with. I guess I'd argue for defining "natural" in degrees.

Oh, yeah - I feel I have to correct my dh when he calls my second birth "natural" when he should be saying "vaginal."

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#15 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 04:13 AM
 
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I think natural birth is a great term to describe intervention-free birth.

I think "not natural" or "unnatural" is a very poor term to describe a birth with interventions. What exactly was it then, artificial? Was the baby made of plastic?

My birth with my son was rife with interventions, and I certainly wouldn't refer to it as a natural birth. I can easily call it medicalized, difficult, and not normal. But I can't call it 'unnatural'. Interventions and all, it was the most primal, earthy, womanly experience of my life, during which I followed my intuition and my heart. To say that it was 'not natural' just doesn't feel accurate.
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#16 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 11:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Veritaserum View Post
Yeah, I agree. I think for some it's the inability to say "vaginal birth". I've even known some people to say that ALL birth is natural, including c-sections. Uh, ok whatever.

~~~

In general I'll use "natural childbirth" and "unmedicated childbirth" to describe a vaginal birth without medications. "Unmedicated" can also refer to a birth without pain meds even if other meds were used (like pitocin).
Honestly, it doesn't bug me (I'm a UCer). To a very loose extent, a baby coming out of a woman is natural, so I guess you could say that a section is natural

I don't think I've ever actually called mine natural... I just say 'no drugs' or 'hubby caught' if asked for specifics along those lines.

I used propane-heated hot water and electricity during my birth... so maybe it wasn't totally natural Just messin around, but ya know, you can take it to any extreme.

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#17 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 12:52 PM
 
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I prefer the term "normal" birth.

From what I've seen these days, it's so normal to have highly medicalized births and c sections that most women just assume natural = vaginal. It's really a weird time we're living in.
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#18 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 03:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kappa View Post
I had a friend who was induced, but went without drugs for pain relief, and she considered her childbirth "natural." I figure, to each her own. I'm not a purist, but it is misleading or confusing when everyone makes up a definition for herself.
I would definately consider that a natural birth. Not all mommas go into labor on their own, and if it means getting induced to avoid a c-section....well, the more power to her. Besides, induced labors tend to be much harder, so if she managed to go without drugs, who are we to take the "natural" badge away from her.

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#19 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 03:17 PM
 
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who are we to take the "natural" badge away from her.

but that's the whole point, its NOT a badge, its a DEFINITION.

Sigh.

This is not a competition. There are no medals, or badges to be won. Everyone who takes a living baby home from the hospital is a winner.
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#20 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 03:28 PM
 
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I've been asked "natural or c-section" many times.... especially by men.... i'm always like.... "VAGINAL"!!! because that's what they are asking. people hate to say the v-word
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#21 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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I face possible induction and if I must do so, will be going though labor and vaginal delivery without pain meds. Dang straight I'll call it natural childbirth. It is not a "made up definition."
I was induced with my second. I went through labor and vaginal delivery without pain medications. Yes, I consider it to be a natural childbirth. I had a natural childbirth with my first child, and the experience felt the same to me. I labored. I worked through contractions. I pushed my baby from my body. That is natural childbirth to me.

And, frankly, I don't care how anyone else defines my birth. I define my birth.
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#22 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 05:25 PM
 
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I would definately consider that a natural birth. Not all mommas go into labor on their own, and if it means getting induced to avoid a c-section....well, the more power to her. Besides, induced labors tend to be much harder, so if she managed to go without drugs, who are we to take the "natural" badge away from her.
Thank you.

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#23 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 05:32 PM
 
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I would definately consider that a natural birth. Not all mommas go into labor on their own, and if it means getting induced to avoid a c-section....well, the more power to her. Besides, induced labors tend to be much harder, so if she managed to go without drugs, who are we to take the "natural" badge away from her.

When don't women go into labor on their own? I think that we've lost sight of what the natural physiological process of labor and birth is in our country. The process is interfered with the majority of the time and we don't know what it even is to not have that messed with. We think that an artificially induced labor is natural.

I think that this is sort of the point of the whole discussion. An induced labor is not natural. I know that there are times when it is necessary. I think that women who go through an induced labor without pain meds deserve medals. That is very difficult and those moms should be applauded. I am not saying that induced moms don't work hard to push their babies out or get through their labors or anything like that.

But that doesn't make synthetic pitocin natural. Pitocin doesn't work the same way in our bodies as oxytocin does. It is not the same.

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#24 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 05:42 PM
 
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This is not a competition. There are no medals, or badges to be won. Everyone who takes a living baby home from the hospital is a winner.
: Well stated!
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#25 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 07:15 PM
 
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I'm not trying to be tongue in cheek here, just curious. For you purists, a natural birth is a birth when not medicated and there are no interventions, right? What about, say, directed pushing, or coaching, or something? (We're not talking about what is IDEAL but rather what is NATURAL...) I would argue that it's not necessarily natural because it's not having the woman use her own instincts.

It seems like it's a slippery slope to say what is and what isn't natural - heck, it seems a solitary, unattended birth seems most natural by definition, because that's the only one where a woman is going by her instincts alone, and yet in a way it's UN-natural too because to the best of my knowledge, most births within the context of human women have been attended by other women in their social group...

And then what about other ways of jump-starting labor, maybe not pitocin through an IV but how about herbal remedies, etc. Were those unnatural births as well?

Just thinking (typing) out loud.
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#26 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 07:28 PM
 
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You make some interesting points and I do think it could indeed be a slippery slope. However, I do think its fair to say that not every vaginal birth is "natural" and I believe the OP is decrying this slide in mainstream usage, and even here on MDC, because its a result of such a high c-section rate, so anything else is "natural." I think its valuable to consider whether on a NATURAL family living site we should embrace this mainstream definition as "if it comes out the vagina its natural" as opposed to the more traditional definiton.
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#27 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 08:18 PM
 
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In 1971, a television news show focused on an elective, scheduled caesarean section delivery. The surgery was called "natural childbirth" because the mother was awake and her pain was blocked by the used of acupuncture needles, not drugs.

Is this really natural childbirth? This attitude has been over 35 years in the making. It is nothing new at all.

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#28 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 09:25 PM
 
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Could it be that cesareans have become so common that when a baby arrives via the vagina, many consider it to have been a "natural" birth, regardless if drugs were involved?

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#29 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 09:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post
I think natural birth is a great term to describe intervention-free birth.
Of course, then you have to define what counts as an intervention. Many people believe that any hindrance to birth, including being in the (unnatural) hospital environment, being closely watched, not being in one's own normal home setting, is an intervention. Or things like coached pushing, pushing in the lithotomy position, etc.

I have had two births that I refer to as unmedicated hospital births. I think the word "natural" has a host of connotations that can be misleading or otherwise dilute what I mean to communicate when I describe those births. Just as "natural" can be used as a euphemism for "vaginal," I think it's also more accurate to say "unmedicated" if what I'm trying to communicate is that I didn't use pharmaceutical induction/augmentation or pain relief.


I would agree that how a woman defines her birth to herself is important...but when discussing birth with other people, it's important to choose language that best achieves whatever our goals are. In the case of vaginal=natural, I think the OP is objecting to the way that the cultural definition of "normal" gets shifted when language is used in that way. As somebody who cares about cultural attitudes about birth, I choose my words carefully when discussing birth with other people.

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know  - e.e. cummings
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#30 of 164 Old 11-16-2007, 09:41 PM
 
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Guess I haven't had one, then. With dd#1 I have proudly talked about my natural birth with her. I had half a dose of nubain early in labor and that's it. I have always been proud of this, as it was the least intervention-laden birth I have ever experienced or those of people I know IRL around my age (not talking about grandma! ).

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