I rarely rant. I almost never rave. If I seem taller than usual, it’s more likely from my new sparkly summer wedges than from standing on a soapbox. But … well … I want to say something that’s going to make some of you furious and others of you feel justified:
Natural childbirth is not possible in an unnatural world.
And we do live in an unnatural world — X-Men, Photoshop, reality tv, fast food, Donald Trump’s hair — and we believe what we see. (Except maybe for the hair.)
Our culture encourages those same “unreal” perceptions regarding childbirth. Movies and tv shows tell us labor will begin with intense pain and agony. We are shown images of women screaming and begging to be medicated. We are told to freak out when water breaks and rush to the hospital. We listen to the horror stories of our “friends.” We ignorantly put ourselves in the hands of people who are exceptionally well-trained to handle abnormalities and emergencies, hence all our births have become such abnormalities and emergencies.
And that’s just not reality.
We are NOT educating ourselves. We have lost our communal knowledge of the art of birthing and have chosen instead to simply trust the medical profession to decide what is best for us.
You can SAY all day long, “I want a natural birth,” but if you aren’t educating yourself, your chances of actually HAVING one are practically nonexistent. I mean, if you want to be a safe driver, but you don’t read the Driver’s Manual, or learn to operate a vehicle from someone who knows how, or even take a driver’s ed class, you MIGHT get in the car and know WHERE you want to go, but what are the chances of actually making it there safely? Probably about the same as having an uneducated natural birth.
Now, by “educating yourself,” I do NOT mean taking the little hospital class that tours you through Labor & Delivery, makes you watch the epidural video and discusses all the things that “could go wrong” and how the hospital will deal with them. NO. NO. An emphatic NO.
Read for yourself: Literature from both ends of the spectrum, from Twinkle Ding-Dong Yoga Birthing toShut Up and Put Your Feet in the Stirrups. Go ahead and take the Labor & Delivery tour at the hospital, then go to an independent childbirth class. Drink in A Baby Story on TLC, then chase it with The Business of Being Born on Netflix.
Read up on epidurals and episiotomies; C-sections and vitamin K shots; vaccinations and circumcisions; fetal monitoring and forceps; meconium and mucous plugs; contractions and colostrum; dilation and doulas; VBAC and PRoM; breech babies and birth positions; posterior presentation, placentas, pitocin & postpartum depression, and for heaven’s sake, PARENTING.
What determines the outcome of your labor hinges sharply on choosing to educate yourself and surround yourself with the support you need. And, as a doula, while I heavily advocate drug-free birthing, my job is to help you have the experience you want. Schedule a C-section, squat in a cornfield, whatever. It is, after all, YOUR body, YOUR baby, YOUR decision.
Just please, please, please make it an INFORMED one.