Why I’m Choosing a Natural Birth

Posted by on Jan 6, 2013 in Pregnancy | 0 comments

When I tell people I am planning a natural birth, it’s interesting to me to compare their reactions. Everything from, “it’s amazing, you’ll love it” to “you know you don’t get a badge for that, right?” to “you just wait, you’ll want the drugs.” Other people don’t know that much about it, but either think I’m crazy or super brave based on what they know of natural birth from the movies.

I’m a first-time mom, which I think adds to people’s thoughts that I must be naive as to how painful, horrible, scary, and dangerous birth is. Especially when I say I simply don’t believe it is. Not that I’m unaware of complications that can happen in a small percentage. I’ve done my research.

But when it all comes down to it, birth is one of the most natural, sure functions of humanity. Think about it — thousands of years of biology has perfected and prepared the female body for reproduction — a function that has worked time and time again for billions of people throughout history. If you’ve ever seen an animal give birth, think about the peace and quiet calm in which they do so without any assistance. We have more developed brains, but otherwise, why should it be all that different? Why do women have this innate fear that somehow their bodies can’t handle it?

I can tell you why — conditioning. Birth as portrayed in the media, stories, and culturally is so often frightening. You see sweaty, screaming women with rags to bite on, clearly in utter distress. The greatest pains of society are always compared to that of childbirth, as if it’s the ultimate of all pain a person can experience. “It’s like pushing a watermelon through your nostril.” I remember being scared of it from the time I was a little girl. I always wanted children, but labor was something I looked forward to with fear. And with everything out there, it’s no wonder that females are terrified!

Because of that, it wasn’t that many years ago that I would have said “give me the drugs!” I remember thinking that someday when I got pregnant I would feel trapped. Not from the fear of becoming a parent, but from the knowledge that my baby would have to come out somehow. Surely I didn’t want to go through that much pain, right? If you don’t know much about it, why would you choose to when the idea of numbing the pain sounds so much better?

Then my friend had her daughter and shared her birth story. It was a beautiful, full of pure elation and made me see that natural birth didn’t have to be a scary thing. It could be a desired thing — inspiring. Even in her case where she was having a more “complicated” VBAC, her body handled it as it was made to do. It got me thinking.

Although I was nowhere ready for kids then, over the next few years I sparked up an interest in it and started doing research. I watched “The Business of Being Born.” I read birth stories and articles. I watched hypnobirthing videos. I had conversations with friends. I read “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” I realized that even my PMS was preparing me for “someday” and when I’d get cramps, I thought of it as labor training. The more I learned, the more I trusted the way our bodies are created.

I not only became more confident in my ability, I learned all the benefits for me and the baby that come with natural birth. Your body and your baby being able to work together better, shorter labor, a natural oxytocin high (the love hormone) for you and baby, easier bonding and breastfeeding, and much faster recovery time to name a few. There are so many more. Women that have been through it talk about seeing a wall that didn’t think they could climb, and then scaling it. They speak of birth as an incredibly empowering experience. “If I can do that, I can do anything!” Labor went from being something that absolutely terrified me, to something I genuinely look forward to. And with an army of women that have done it before me, I go into it with confidence.

Despite today’s technology, I think women’s bodies know what to do better on their own than any doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for medical technology, and especially the life-saving capabilities that doctors provide when they are needed. But it’s also been shown that the more interventions that take place via medicine, emotional pressure and fear, and in-optimal position can cause more unnecessary emergencies than there would be without intervention. Your body is made to labor without all that stuff, so when you add it, you and your baby don’t always know how to adapt.

So to sum it up, I’m not doing it because I’m brave or naive or expect a badge of honor. I’m choosing a natural birth for the health of me and my baby and because I am confident my body was made to handle it. Whether you call it science or God, I trust that my body was given everything it needs and knows exactly what to do. I am excited, not just the end result of having a baby, but for the journey which will hopefully lead me to an empowering, life-changing experience.

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