When I was pregnant with Anna, my firstborn, I remember weighing my birthing options, none of which sounded all that great to me. Hospital, epidural, c-section, natural childbirth. I quickly concluded there was no really good way to get the baby out into the world. What’s a girl to do? Not being one who enjoys being a “patient” too much, and having a sister-in-law who was a proponent of midwives, I set out to educate myself. I read books like “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer, watched videos, asked questions, etc. My eyes were opened.
I realized that we women, with all our highly touted freedom of “choice” and civil rights, often just follow along like sheep, accepting what the “professionals” feed us. They are the experts, after all. Never mind that women have been birthing babies since humanity began. When you examine the methods and results and motivations (sure, the doctor can induce you on Monday so he/she doesn’t have the inconvenience of being called in on the weekend in the middle of the night) – you start to see that a lot of the accepted “normal” procedures don’t make a lot of sense.
Have you ever wondered why women in labor are supposed to lie on their backs? It’s for the doctor’s convenience – it’s probably the least comfortable position to be in while pregnant. Labor can be induced, but then it’s more painful. So they give you an epidural, which requires you to be hooked up to all kinds of monitors because you are so out of touch with your body that you don’t even know when to push and have to be instructed to do so. All the intervention increases your chances of having a c-section – major surgery that typically is harder to recover from than a natural birth.
As for the pain, much of it is brought on by our own fear, which causes the body to tense up and resist its own natural abilities. Many women in other countries who are not taught to fear childbirth are able to give birth to their babies with no pain at all. For those of us not so fortunate, there is a method called Hypnobirthing which teaches women how to relax fully and allow their bodies to do the work they know how to do and were designed for – with minimal or even no pain at all. There are also other techniques, such as water, breathing, and various positions that minimize discomfort during labor – many of which you lack the freedom to employ at a regular hospital birth.
There are so many options available to women who would take the time and effort to do a bit of research and thinking. Maybe you’d still choose a hospital, full intervention childbirth, but at least you would know the alternatives and make an informed decision. I have chosen to use midwives and a birth center for my babies and would have it no other way. I have enjoyed freedom to move about, eat, drink, position myself as I desired, no needles or invasive monitors, quick easy labor in a friendly environment, returning home the same afternoon, speedy recovery time. Approximately 85% of pregnancies are normal and healthy and would be able to benefit from the same natural childbirth experience – if the mother were educated and so inclined.
The truth shall set you free. Educate yourself.