“All natural childbirth has a purpose and a plan; who would think of tearing open the chrysalis as the butterfly is emerging? Who would break the shell to pull the chick out?” ~ Marie Mongon, author of Hypnobirthing
When people first think about natural childbirth, it may sound like a crazy idea. I mean, why would you actually want to feel birth when you could simply get drugs to numb it out?
Contrary to the current fear-based birth culture, there are some really great reasons to consider natural childbirth. Obviously, this isn't a new idea. It's one that's been around for thousands of years and it's original design offers many benefits! See if any of these reasonate with you.
- Labor is shorter without epidurals ~ Medications slow down our natural production of hormones and cause longer labors. Need I say more here?
- Natural Childbirth is healthier for most mamas and babies and reduces the risks from medical interventions ~ Medications carry risks! Big risks. It's always been curious to me as to why we tell pregnant women, throughout pregnancy, to avoid medications...only to throw the doors of the pharmacy wide open in labor.
While, I'll agree that there is a time and a place for medical interventions, including medications, for most mothers and babies, avoiding labor drugs helps a woman avoid the slippery slope of further medical interventions that can often lead to c-sections and drugged baby related problems.
Some common issues with epidurals during birth are:
- They can make labor longer
- They nearly triple the risk of c-section
- They triple the risk of serious perineal laceration
- They triple the risk for needing Pitocin because they slow down natural labor. Pitocin may, in turn, contribute to fetal distress.
- They quadruple the risk of poorly positioned babies during birth which can then lead to instrumental or surgical birth.
- They can reduce your chances of a vaginal birth by 50%!
Chris Kressler did a great article, citing the studies regarding the risks I just mentioned. You can find that here.
Here's another link to a great collection of studies on the risks of epidurals in childbirth. http://www.healing-arts.org/mehl-madrona/mmepidural.htm#medical_risks_epidurals_distress
Let me not reinvent the wheel but also refer you to Chris Kressler's article on the risks associated with Pitocin.
- Natural Childbirth offers faster postpartum recovery time ~ Most mamas feel great a short while after a natural childbirth. This is typically attributed to the body's amazing cocktail of hormones, specifically endorphins. Endorphins are our natural morphine-like hormones that offer a level of pain relief both during and after birth. When artificial substances, such as medications, are used, they interrupt the body's ability to produce enough endorphins and leave medicated women feeling "hammered" after birth.
- Breastfeeding is optimized ~ Un-medicated babies are more alert and ready to explore their new world. Check out this amazing "Breast Crawl" video done by Lennart Righard.
- Natural Childbirth Mamas Connect to Their Experience and are Empowered by Their Birth ~ As a midwife who has attended over 500 births, I've seen and heard an incredible number of stories about how a woman's birth changed her life...made her stronger..made her feel confident and able to handle other challenges of life.
- In the current culture of institutionalized birth, a woman's need for a great birth "experience" is shunned and often shamed with statements like, "a healthy mother and healthy baby is more important than the kind of birth you experience!" We all agree that the first priority is a healthy mama and a healthy baby but why is that statement so often used to suppress a woman's desire for a beautiful birth? It's not one OR the other! Many women can have both!
- Let me be really clear here that I fully understand that normal birth is not without bumps in the road. Not every birth is exactly as a mom would like it to be, but why should these "variations of normal" be any less empowering. Unless there is a dire emergency ( .5 - 2% of all birth), every mom is able to be an informed partner in her care and have all of her choices set before her. Birth is not perfect but allowing a woman all of her choices in childbirth (even if they don't align with mine) is to honor her God-given power as a woman. This, too, creates a strong mama and tight mama/baby bond.
“There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” ~ Laura Stavoe Harm
Allow me to encourage you. You are stronger than you know. Your baby knows how to navigate birth. Your body knows how to co-create, grow and birth a baby. God created this amazing design, called woman, for so many great purposes and one, is natural childbirth.
Read all you can. Learn all you can. Do all you can.
Live your truth.
In love, strength and birth joy! Lisa