Real Thoughts On Why Natural Birth Rocks

It doesn't really matter what I think you know, but here it is anyway.

I know there is a lot of this mentality out there:

"I'm OK.  You're OK.  There are no wrong choices, just choices.  Do what works for you."

You are going to hate me, but that just isn't how my mind works.  I have a more black and white view of the world. 

I know, so old fashioned, I still believe in right and wrong.  This isn't to say that I think I am better than somebody because I think I did the right thing and I think they did the wrong thing.  Quite the contrary.  I am fully aware of the FACT that I do the wrong thing all the time.  I know this because A) I believe in right and wrong so I see how wrong I am constantly, and B) my husband likes to point it out.  BOO!  (That sucks by the way.)

Things get funny when it comes to birth.  To be truthful, though I am pretty passionate and opinionated about birthy type stuff, I don't think most of it has a moral basis.  It isn't morally wrong to schedule a c-section and bottle feed, just like it isn't morally right to have a natural birth and nurse on demand.  At least in my mind.  To me these are choices- but not something that you could burn in hell for.  (I just realized how totally wacky this post is.)

BUT- even though I don't believe choosing one mode of birth over another is grounds for heaven or hell, I do believe that there are "better" choices in these matters.

(Get prepared to hate me.  Are you ready?  Good.)

I think that natural birth (real natural, not just "I birthed without medications but I was forced on my back and everybody was staring at a monitor and yelling at me how to do it and the doctor yanked on the babies head" natural) is superior to medicated birth most of the time.  I think that drugs interfere with the normal physiological process of birth in a negative way.

Sometimes I can prove this with studies, sometimes not.  I can admit that.  But even if there are studies out there that say that epidurals don't increase c-section rates or that hospital birth is tons safer than home birth (yes I have read those ones too), I can't say I am too concerned.  Why?  Because I believe something.  I believe in natural birth. 

Now, we like to think that we believe stuff because we can prove it.  This is often not the case.  Actually, it seems like most of us just believe what we WANT to believe, evidence be darned.  (Yes I just said darn.  I am working on my swearing problem.)  I am no different, and frankly, you probably aren't either.

Sometimes people tell me I am too opinionated on this birth stuff.  Sometimes it is mentioned that I should be more accepting of various birth choices.  "What is right for you isn't right for everybody" gets thrown out there.  Maybe people think that I am being judgmental when I say, "Natural birth is better."

Here is the thing though- I really do think it is better.  I think, if possible, mothers and babies are better off if they birth in a supportive, loving, environment and do so without the "aid" of drugs to speed or numb them or fill their veins with fluid or drain their bodies of urine.

I can't always prove it, but I still believe it.  Why?  Because I have done it, and I know what it can be like.  I try to communicate that to people.  In fact I try so hard that I spend (waste?!) hours slamming away on these plastic letters in an effort to tell people how birth can be awesome. 
Does this mean I think women are somehow less or morally remiss if they choose or enjoy surgical, medicated, or induced birth?  Actually, no it doesn't.  But understanding why people sometimes make choices I disagree with doesn't mean I have to agree with them.

Can't I "get" why epidurals are used and still think they are lame?  Can't I understand the desire for induction and still think babies should come when ready?  (Have I mentioned my two babies a week and a half late?  It sucked.)  Can't I see why somebody would desire a c-section and still think that this is riskier?

I guess I could say things like this,
"I support women in all their birth choices, a planned medically unnecessary c-section might be right for you.  We are all on different paths."

Except, I don't really believe that.  I DO believe we should all have choices.  I do not want my choices taken from me or from you.  I do think we are all on different paths.  I just think a healthy natural birth is an freaking fantastic choice and I think it is safer and healthier. 

I could try to sound supportive of all the choices out there, but I would be lying.  I think there is TONS of support out there to get an epidural.  Most hospitals have epidurals of what, 80%?  If you want to find somebody to tell you that they love epidurals, you won't have to go far.

But I am not going to tell you I love epidurals.  I could say that a scheduled c-section is a viable choice for a woman who has had a traumatic birth or who is afraid of birth or who has been abused.  Guess what, I totally understand why people make these choices. (Holy freak people, I have real life friends who had and loved epidurals!  I don't think I am better than them!  I am not totally nuts!  I just like natural birth!!!!)

OR- I could tell women that they CAN do this.  I could tell them that they are strong.  I could tell them that they are powerful.  I could tell them that they are capable of things beyond what they know.  I could tell them that overcoming the pain of birth and pushing past their own weakness, will give them inner strength that they had no idea they had.  I could tell them that they should try like hell to change the system rather than submitting to it- - even though it is easier to submit.   

I would rather change the system so that women could have good natural births more easily and more safely.  I would rather we learned to fight than give in.  I would have us know triumph over a legacy of machismo and paternalism rather than submitting to that system and calling it a choice.  (Woah, got cheesy again.  Oops.)

To me, supporting THE epidural and THE c-section and THE current obstetric model of care is NOT supporting women.  It is a backwards way of saying, "You can't do it on your own.  You just are not that strong."  Umm, I think we are that strong.

So let me break it down.  

I believe that natural birth is the best way to birth when possible.

It doesn't bother me when people disagree.  (Except for Dr Lisa and another so called doctor online, but I digress again.)

I don't think less of people when they choose differently even though I think some of those interventions are lame.  

I understand why people choose differently and I understand why somebody might think I was wrong.

But I still am sure I am right.

Yeah, that's about it. 


Anonymous said…
We think a lot alike. There's no part at all in this where I start to hate you even a little!
Diana said…
Well.... yes!!! Agree!
Jill said…
I am with you 100% on this one! I had a c-section with my first because I was told I didn't have any other choice when they found out she was breech (6 hours after my water broke). I was able to have a wonderful natural hospital VBAC for my son. I CANNOT wrap my head around the idea that someone would CHOOSE surgery and, after getting the spinal for my c-section, I would never want to feel paralyzed again, so I don't really understand the appeal of an epidural. I don't think I'm better than others either, but I do think I made the right birh choices for my VBAC. I join your quest to educate and empower women! Keep up the amazing blog. My birth stories are here:
Accalia said…
Thank you for this post! I have felt exactly like you - trapped between wanting to be supportive of other women, but knowing in my heart that I believe differently than they do. I love how well-written this is!

Incidentally, you mention "Dr. Lisa." I was thinking that you and Mrs. BWF ought to write an official letter to the "Doctors" show, one that all us us online friends can sign. A petition to have someone like Ina May Gaskin or Dr. Odent to come on the show WITHOUT Dr. Lisa (or Jillian, for that matter!) to present a clear picture of the natural birthing side. Just a thought (I would do write the petition, but I'm not "influential" in the same sense as you and Mrs. BWF).

Thanks for such a great blog!
AmandaRuth said…
....sometimes it takes someone with balls to say what every else is to afraid to say. : )
Joy@WDDCH said…

By far my fave post you've written. Agree a million percent!!!
sigh. That is exactly it! I feel about birth like I did about religion when I was a missionary. There is this really really great thing, and why doesn't everyone want it?! I get it, but I still think doing it the way nature intended is better. so be it.
Ok so can you from now on just write your opinion and not water it down for the PC people? Who cares if you lose followers, you will gain more devotion from the ones who KNOW natural birth is better :)
Sara said…
Totally agree with this- I am much more a black-and-white person, also. I try not to make people feel bad about their decisions, (after all, it's done!), but I want to convey to them that there is something better they could try for the future.
Anonymous said…
It's so sad that we have to tip toe around things that shouldn't even be offensive, things that can generally be considered "true". Thank you for making your point-- you're right. And why shouldn't we try our best to have what's best?
Mama Birth said…
Ya'll crack me UP! But I can guarantee you don't want to know what I think all the time. And I am afraid I would scare off those searching but thinking this stuff is a little weird.
Amen, sister.


I think most of us simply need to find a balance between having an opinion, and using that opinion to make others feel shitty. I know I've made other feel shitty before, not because of anything I've said, but because they KNOW how I feel about birth and they think they've disappointed. This drives me nuts! And bums me out! And makes me want to bang my head into a wall! Just because I WANT what is healthiest and best for others doesn't mean I think less of them. This is hard to convey though, and it's a message that isn't as much about the sender as much as it is about the receiver. People are really sensitive about choices like that, and a PART of me believes it's because sometimes even the gal with the planned c-section knows in her heart that maybe it isn't BEST for her. And then, there are those women who really are fine with however their birth goes. I'm not one of those gals, but hey.

I just wish we could have our opinions and not be so allienating at the same time. You seem to do a great job at this. Keep it up!
This is why I love you. And yes, I said love. I hope I haven't scared you! hehe
Colleen said…
I totally agree with everything you write. It is hard to explain why we believe what we believe when so many women think we are crazy to want natural, unmedicated births, we just believe its best. But it doesn't just happen these days, we have to prepare for it both mentally and physically otherwise, we could make a small wrong choice i.e. induction and suddenly be overwhelmed by the whole gravy train of medical interventions. Usually ending in a confused and disorientated Mum and baby - how did we get here?
Liza Burford said…
I agree with you that natural birth is such a great option for women and is overlooked so often. I am pregnant with my first and plan to have a home birth assuming that all goes well and there are no complications come "D" day. I do wish that awareness of natural/home births and the use of midwives was higher in the US. People can be so ignorant and stubborn sometimes, and I don't see how in most other countries (not just 3rd world) midwives are the go to option more so than OB's. C-sections are extremely damaging, and I agree about epidurals... I have had so many people suggest that I get one or that I deliver in a hospital. I've had people tell me that I'm putting myself and my unborn baby in danger because of the decision I'm making to consciously deliver with a midwife at home. It irritates me so much! I don't know if you've watched "The Business of Being Born" or not, but it's really fantastic. You can get it on netflix. That video really opened my eyes even more and made me want to have a home birth no questions asked. I know so many people who have given birth at home and it's been great for them, I can only hope that all will go well for my birthing experience in a few more months :) Thank you for not being afraid to voice your opinion on the matter!
penguinof3 said…
I am glad you acknowledged having a c section because of a breach baby, my first child was breach and i had a scheduled c section at 37 weeks because of low fluid among other complications, i would have had a vbac with my second however he was breach and i went into labor at 37 weeks before my scheduled c section...the doctors didnt give me a choice with my third child at all...i went into labor at 34.5 weeks and was rushed to an emergency c section after which my child spent 10 days in the nicu...he was the only one i was successfully able to breast feed and i had to pump because he wasnt strong enough to wrote this article in a way that i didnt feel like you were attacking those that had childbirths that were not ideal, i very much wanted to do natural birth and breast feeding but it just wasnt in the cards. many people have made me feel guilty or bad about it in the past but i have now come to terms with the fact that these things were out of my control. :)
Jill Potter said…
I really don't agree with anything you said. Your opinion is right for YOU. That is it. It's not right for ME even though you think it is (according to your very last sentence). I don't like pain, I don't want to feel my shit tear, I don't want to feel a ring of fire. I had an epi and guess what? That sense of empowerment you speak of? I felt it too. I grew and delivered a miracle. I have never been more proud of anything I have ever done in my life. And I did it my way-the best way for me. The RIGHT way for me. So sorry to say-your opinion that you think you are right (again, which you say at the end of your blog) is actually wrong.
Jill Potter said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paala said…
This is one of my all-time favorite posts of yours. Natural birth will always be better for mother and baby in the short and long run for mankind. I don't know why people need to see studies that prove various points indicating unnecessary interventions are harmful. They are harmful!!!
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
agreed...and this opinion of mine may offend many as well...Women who tell me they tried a natural birth but were unable in the end to not choose the epidural or have some other invasive procedure done never actually tried a natural birth and don't understand what a natural birth is. Natural birth doesn't just mean it was done without pain meds. Natural birth is a completely different model of care for woman and baby than what hospitals can ever offer even if they have a wonderful birthing center because they are still created within the medical model which focuses on medical problems, statistics, monitors, and medical solutions.