Take Back Your Birth!

Pregnant Belly

I’m a fat, juicy buffalo carelessly wandering out into the middle of a lions’ den.  You are a pack of hungry lions, and I am about to be dismembered limb by limb when I say...

It is my conviction that a healthy woman of ideal childbearing age who has a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and otherwise healthy baby can have a natural birth.  I would go so far as to say that she should have a natural birth – or at least open her mind to it.  Please hear me out.

I know that it is common in America to think Pain?  No thanks.  I’ll take an epidural, please.  Shaken, not stirred.  The thought of putting yourself through that kind of unnecessary pain seems insane.  Most women select the first OB/GYN covered by their insurance plan and run with it.  I honestly think that most Americans spend more time considering their choices for pizza toppings than they do their choices for childbirth. 

I want to assure you that I’m not a crazy hippie: I don’t even flinch when I toss my plastic peanut butter jar in the trash, because the thought of scrubbing that thing out by hand is more devastating to me than global warming.  I’m not a feminist: I would never set fire to one of my coveted bras.  And I’m certainly not a masochist:  I’ll whine half the day about a paper cut.

I don’t think I’m better than you because I didn’t need drugs or an epidural when I gave birth to my daughter.  I was blessed to be given the knowledge and understanding of my body and its ability to birth without medical intervention months before I even gave birth.  I was blessed to have my husband coaching me and supporting me by my side, and I was especially blessed to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.  I want you to be blessed with the same things.

There are so many reasons for you to consider having a natural childbirth that I cannot even begin to name them here.  The biggest reason is that it leads to fewer interventions, which is safer for mommy and for baby.  The USA has one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed nations.  These days nearly 1/3 of American women have an “emergency” or elective c-section – a major abdominal surgery!  To me, that seems crazier than a natural childbirth!

Most women show up at the hospital and are immediately given medical intervention.  Pitocin because you aren’t progressing as they would like you to, then an epidural because the Pitocin is making your contractions unbearable, then more Pitocin because the epidural slowed down your labor, then more epidural because you have been in labor so long the first one is wearing off.  By the time you are ready to push you can’t feel the baby’s head crowning like you would if you had been given no epidural, so you don’t feel that urgent, insatiable, life-depends-on-it desire to push.  You push and push for two or three hours and then are taken for an emergency c-section.  Call me crazy, but that is not my idea of an ideal birthing experience.

We are a generation of brilliant, educated, independent women.  We owe it to ourselves to do some research that extends beyond the standard hospital childbirth class.  We need to be our own advocates.  Most women feel intense pain early in their labor because they are fearful of what is happening.  When you are knowledgeable about the stages of labor and when you have a strong support team whether it is your partner, a friend, a doula, a midwife, or any combination of those people, you aren’t scared of what is happening.  Fear creates tension in the body, and tension facilitates pain.  When you are relaxed and understanding about the natural process occurring in your body then your body creates natural pain killing endorphins.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that my transitional labor dilating from seven to ten centimeters was just as painful as your labor at five centimeters.

Please, do me a favor, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant read the book “Your Best Birth” by Ricki Lake (yes, I said Ricki Lake) and Abby Epstein and/or watch the film “The Business of Being Born.”  Last I knew the film is on your instant Netflix choices.  These resources can do a much better job expressing the importance of knowing your options.  They don’t even suggest you have a natural birth, but just that you open your mind to the options that exist.  Personally, my husband and I took “The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth” courses through a local Grand Rapids area instructor.  This is a great option, too.  We had a hospital birth using an OB/GYN.  Since you probably already think I’m crazy, let me just leave you with this last thought:

Having a baby naturally will give you the biggest high of your life.  I have never felt closer to my husband or more in touch with my body than in those 23 hours I labored with my daughter.  I remember everything, and it was truly life changing.  When I was done and was holding my daughter in my arms for the first time I had this amazing feeling like, if I can do that, I can do anything.  Aside from maybe becoming the first female President, I can’t think of one event in life that could have given me a greater sense of accomplishment.  Your birth can be peaceful, inspiring, and self-fulfilling.  You can take control of the situation.  Giving birth is natural, but in this country we got lost somewhere along the way.  Take back your birth: You can start by opening your mind.

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