The natural childbirth movement has been growing recently and I am constantly bombarded with questions as to why I would choose such a thing. Now, every woman has different reasons and I'd like to take the time to explain my feelings.
First of all, I should define what natural childbirth means to ME. For me, natural(or perhaps more appropriately, normal physiological) childbirth is a birth that begins spontaneously, when the baby is ready. It is not induced(unless medically necessary, which should be a given but some people need that pointed out) or augmented to meet someone's arbitrary time limit. It is working with my body, assuming the positions that feel good and avoiding ones that don't. It is using natural coping techniques including hydrotherapy, visualization, massage, change of position etc. It is eating and drinking what I want, when I want. It is pushing in the position that feels good to me and not being coached to hold my breath and count to ten. It is me giving birth to my baby, not my baby being delivered for me. It is my baby immediately in my arms and kept there to bond and nurse as long as we both feel like it. It is delivering of my placenta on it's own, without it being yanked or forced out. Basically, normal childbirth is well, normal. I listen to my body and work with it to deliver a baby.
A word about interventions. I am NOT anti-intervention. Just because I choose to go "natural" does not mean I do not think there is an appropriate time and place for an intervention. And just because an intervention is needed, does *not* mean one has *failed*. C-sections are sometimes necessary and indeed life saving. But they are commonly the result of a cascade of unnecessary interventions(usually beginning with an unnecessary induction). If labor has been stalled for what everyone(including and most importantly, mom) feels is too long and the woman needs/wants a little pit, so be it. I don't however, feel that 75% of women need pitocin to deliver their baby! And if I have to hear one more woman say her Doctor "had" to break her water to "get things moving" I might just scream. It's called patience and it is a virtue in labor. There are plenty of reasons to intervene. What's important to me is that mothers feel empowered in the decision making process and not coerced or manipulated into accepting something that they don't want. A laboring woman is in a very vulnerable position. It is not just one day. It is not just the end of a pregnancy. It is the beginning of a new phase of life. It is an opportunity for a mother to feel empowered and ecstatic about her ability to bring life into the world. It is a chance for her to know just how strong she really is and to be confident in her ability to do anything and everything. Sounds hokey I know. I would not have believed it before I went through it so I can understand why many people don't see what the big deal is all about. As long as baby and mom are healthy, then everyone should be happy. Nope. Sorry. Not good enough. We deserve more.
I believe this kind of birth can happen in any setting, although it is easier to achieve in a homebirth or birth center than a hospital. I had both of my children in a hospital, the first with an OB then second with a group of CNM's and a doula, but I'm a huge proponent of homebirth as a good choice for low risk mothers. Nebraska is very behind the times in regards to midwifery and womens choices in childbirth. We do not have any birth centers(although one was built, it never opened due to problems finding a backup physician) in the entire state, and there are very few midwives willing to do homebirths. It is a felony for a certified nurse midwife or a MD to provide a homebirth. The state does not recognize any of the direct entry midwife designations and as such it is a legal gray area. Most of the midwives who were providing services have been served with cease and desist orders. It's a lot like a witchhunt. But my point is that women need to have choices. They need to thoroughly research those choices and pick the setting that makes her feel the most comfortable. The birth setting has a huge impact on labor that is largely ignored.
And now that my simple intro paragraph explaining what natural childbirth means to me has grown into a post of it's own, I will save my original plans for this post for part 2.
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