It was a bit of a shock to join a “due date club” on large pregnancy/baby website during my pregnancy with Corwin. Most of these moms-to-be were planning a standard hospital delivery for their babies. Their birth outcomes were, for the most part, terrible. I came close to weeping every time I looked at the forum.
Most weren't satisfied with their birth experiences – the inductions, the complications caused by interventions, the fear, the cesarean surgeries, the cut and torn perineums, the emotional aftermath of all of that…
But it was all dismissed with “we have our babies, and that's what matters.”
Certainly there is value in treasuring your baby and moving on.
But birth doesn't have to be this way. Childbirth does not have to be a fear-filled, dangerous trial leading to a healthy baby and a wounded mother.
Childbirth Can Be Safe AND Satisfying
Birth can be a satisfying experience for all families. It can also be safe for all families.
I don't want to claim that childbirth can be natural for all families. Sometimes an intervention such as cesarean section is needed for the safety of mom, baby, or both. But it can still be an empowered experience where the family and doctor make the choice for a cesarean. It may not be the ideal a mother dreamed of, but she feels empowered and knows she made the right choice for her baby.
This is different than what many women experience – you feel like the induction, cesarean, episiotomy, etc. was forced on you. You feel regret and perhaps bitterness over the experience.
Mothers (families) who prepare for birth and work with caregivers who trust normal birth have satisfying outcomes. You have that even if an emergency arises. And the greatest thing is, emergency rarely does arise.
Birth is safe (without intervention).
A Picture of What Childbirth Can Be
There's no reason to wax poetic about birth in the past. Some cultures did trust birth, but just as many didn't. We can and should honor the memory of strong mothers in the past (and strong midwives and doctors who trusted birth). But what we need to focus on is the future.
Imagine this: young girls understand that birth is normal and natural because they watch their siblings (even cousins and friends) coming into the world. Pregnancy and birth are talked about, not cloaked in silence.
Information about healthy pregnancy is driven not by government and corporate subsidy, but by what it really takes to make healthy babies and keep pregnancy free of complications.
Mothers-to-be don't dread childbirth. The focus is not on the pain or debate over birth settings and medications. Women don't fear birth and having a baby drug-free is a part of life you expect. Your friends tell you kindly, but matter-of-factly, that you can and will be able to give birth. Horror stories are a thing of the past.
You know that you are strong, your daughter grows knowing she is strong, and our entire culture affirms that women are strong and can give birth naturally.
You go into birth confident and calm, understanding how your body works and how babies are born. This goes beyond the birds and the bees – you really get what it takes to get a baby out, and you know what positions make your body most open.
That matters because in this future, you can use any position you want. There aren't fetal monitors and IV poles strapping you to the bed – because research showed those types of interventions harm, not help, they've been abandoned.
You move how and where you want to. If baby is slow in coming you're able to rest if you need, or encouraged to get up and walk, climb some stairs, belly dance, rock on a birth ball, or do other things proven by doctors, midwives, and most importantly, other mothers-to-be to get babies moving down and into your arms.
If help is needed the family, doctors, nurses, and midwives talk together respectfully (if possibly briefly) to determine the best course of action. Prepared families may not always have their ideal birth, but they always have a birth where they feel informed and in control to make the best choice for their child.
You are confident and well-prepared; childbirth is not a secret, it's not a punishment, and it's not a medical event. It's understood since girlhood, prepared for throughout pregnancy, and celebrated as an everyday miracle as you give birth to your baby in peace and confidence.
Can we really create a culture of trust, safety, and empowerment around natural birth? I believe we can – and it starts with one woman at a time preparing for birth with information, confidence, and finding joy in her baby – and in the journey to bring her baby into her arms.
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