Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interesting Blog Post Link on Natural Childbirth

This is why I tell people that our "current plan" (stress on "current") is to birth naturally in a birth center. And why I say that we'll see how it all turns out, whether I'll really make it through labor without pain meds, without any interventions, etc. Because this fallen world is unpredictable (and so is my ability to handle pain!).

I am a huge supporter of natural birth (though I'm sort of an unqualified supporter until I've gone through it myself), but I think many - and I'm not saying all - in the natural birth camp are missing one piece of the puzzle in the perspective. We women are told to "believe in our body" and "believe in God's natural design for birth", or whatever other variation on the natural childbirth mantra. I believe that God did design a woman's body for birth, and that it doesn't usually have to be a medical event.

(and that's a big but) this earth is not the perfect "good" world that God originally created. As a Christian I have to remember that this world is darkened by sin, which affects every aspect. Childbirth, of all things, even got individual note in the curse recorded in Genesis! That means that our bodies do not always work according to their perfect original design, that means that childbirth is painful, and that means that we can't guarantee that childbirth will be a "a natural, nonmedical event". Tragic events happen, and more simply, some women don't have the ability or desire (or in some cases, haven't been prepared) to handle pain.

There is a lot of controversy over interventions in labor and delivery, and I think the general obstetrician needs to seriously reconsider a lot of her practices. But the fact is that managed care, pain meds, etc. usually still result in healthy, happy babies. And that's a much bigger thing than whether or not a woman chooses to have an ultrasound in pregnancy, or had an episiotomy in labor, or an epidural, or an induction, or any of the other many intervention options. It's good to remember the big picture - in this case a picture of a cute little baby :-D.

On the flip side, I do highly recommend Natural Childbirth: The Bradley Way and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth for education on obstetric care and alternatives. Just keep it all in perspective, please.


Annette M. Heidmann said...

Your perspective is wiser than most that I encountered prior to my first birth experience, which was about as natural as you can get, other than being in a hospital - but I had a midwife, and no meds or interventions of any kind, and it was great. But each of my four births was different, down to the last which was an emergency C-section. We were so grateful for the expertise of the doctors that prevented serious complications to our son! So yes -- it's great to aim for a natural birth experience, but maintain a realistic expectation. Good post! :-)

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I appreciate this post. It makes me feel less of an "evil mother" because I still am considering a non-natural birth if and whenever I have children.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Thank you for making a nice, linkable post ;o).

Like so many other issues, "natural" vs. "assisted" birth is one of those issues where each side can have their horror ("I'm so glad I didn't!") stories.

There is definitely more of a spectrum to intervention in births than I've read in any book promoting the "natural" side.

This from a mom happy with how my 3 "naturals" went. My sister did her three in hospital and couldn't be happier or more satisfied with her experience.

I've heard the same from others. Contentment on both sides.

So from my limited sample size I think it really comes down to personality and expectations.

Becky said...


Thank you for this post. I've never given birth but I was in attendance at my nephew's birth in the hospital. My sister gave birth in a mostly natural way, up until the last 10 minutes when my nephew's heart rate dropped dramatically and almost stopped, prompting emergency intervention and ultimately, a speedier birth and thankfully, a LIVING, beautiful, amazing little boy who I love dearly.

By the way, that was her 4th baby and EVERY birth experience of hers was as different as each of her children.

This is a great lesson that we should NEVER judge each other, that life is precious and as long as life is preserved and protected, who cares about the details?

Thanks again,

Eltinwe said...

Susan, that is yet another excellent post, set of thoughts, and expression thereof. I have, of course, just one or two things I'd like to mention.

First, "natural" is relative not only to what form intervention may or may not take, but as you pointed out, this IS a fallen world. The only TRUE "natural" childbirth available was prior to the fall. Since then, ALL childbirth is, to one extent or another, subject to the conditions and ramifications of the fall. There is nothing "natural" and "good" about the curse God put on us, to endure pain in childbirth. Nothing redeemed about it. Nor should we consider it "purifying" or "cleansing" in any way. It is the result of the fall, nothing more, nothing less. And glorifying it as if it were a good thing the way I have heard some (though by no means all) natural childbirth proponents do, is silliness.

That said, I had Carina without any pain medication at ALL, and it wasn't, at least for me, nearly as bad as they make it out to be. I could handle the pain. I tend to be against unnecessarily medicating, and definitely being as aware and alert as possible when that baby shows up is one of MY personal goals.

Of course... having gone with no pain medications the first time, I'm not exactly sure why I did that, except I felt pressured to, and I don't plan to repeat that process. Sure, I know I can do it, but... why? I didn't heal very well after the first time around, and I think it was partly because of the stress that the pain put on my body.

So basically - there are two sides, and if you pick one tentatively, which you seem to have chosen exactly the same option as I did with Carina, just be prepared - and more importantly, have the people who will be with you prepared - in case you want to or need to change your mind.

Anonymous said...

LOL! Ashely,

Wanting to avoid pain isn't "evil." I just go with what I can handle. I don't deal with pain well, at all. I really believe that my natural birth with my second resulted in some bonding issues between Harry and I. On the other hand, I bonded immediately with Owen.

Some excellent comments, btw.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Birth is such a controversial topic, something I didn't realize until I became pregnant. My husband and I are expecting our little girl in August and we're planning on having a homebirth.

When I tell people I am going to have a natural birth (no pain meds unless necessary for an emergency c-section), they immediately tell me that I'll be begging for it etc. Women are made to believe that they can't do this without pain meds or intervention.

I believe that for me and my family, the best thing is a homebirth. However, I also believe that all women are different and that what works for me and my family, may not work for another.

It comes down to the fact that giving birth is a very personal experience and I believe that all women should do what they feel most comfortable with.

God bless,


Sherrin said...

Great post! This is how I think about the birth of my (still) hypothetical children! You said it so well.

Eltinwe said...


Just as a word of encouragement, I had my daughter without any form of medication and was NOT begging for it. Really, it wasn't nearly as bad as most women make it sound. Sometimes I think they make it sound that bad just to get sympathy. I'm sure sometimes it's worse than mine was, but mostly I think it's just that women have been convinced they can't handle it when it's really just that they don't want to. (Which is fine too, but lack of desire is not the same as inability, and they should not be confused.)


Simply Heart And Home said...

Hi. This is my first time to your blog. I find it very refreshing and balanced. I look forward to reading more.

Have a lovely day.


Michelle said...

Hi, Susan... loved the post and the link. You have a nice balanced attitude. With Cassandra, I'd planned "all natural" too, and it was going great until they realized she way "backwards". :D Three c-sections (after two VBAC attempts), I'm completely convinced as well, that how they get here isn't nearly as important as I thought it was! :) They're healthy and so am I. God's accomplishment, not mine. And I'm more aware of it after being completely unable to control any of it... so I can't take any credit for my three wonderful children. :) Miss you! ~Michelle