Over and over I see people who put very little into their birth preparation and are then shocked and amazed when they get steamrolled by the "system."
I am going to tell it to you straight. Birth requires effort. It takes time. It is physically challenging. It is emotionally and mentally intense. If you particularly want a natural birth and and you want to minimize your chances of an unnecessary c-section then please, for the love of all that is holy, ACT LIKE YOU REALLY WANT IT AND PUT SOME TIME INTO PREPARATION.
I remember a visit with my midwife with my first child. She was a former home birth midwife. She trusted birth and all that jazz. I told her I was planning on going natural. I kid you not, she didn't seem to think I could do it. Not because she really thought I couldn't do it, but because she heard 10 times a day women say they, "We're hoping on going natural...." and then they got an epidural as fast as they could once they felt an actual contraction.
I should probably add a disclaimer here (why not?!). Some women just birth easily and fearlessly with no classes, effort, or time spent on thinking about it.
But if we take a good hard look at the outrageous c-section rate I think it is obvious that these women are RARE. Are you sure you are that woman?
Current birth isn't the birth your great-grandma had. She birthed at home. She saw other women give birth. She was surrounded by caring women as she birthed. She worked hard every day. She scrubbed her floor on her hands and knees. She squatted in her garden. She ate a whole foods diet rich in raw milk, vegetables, meat she probably had a part in killing, and butter she churned herself. She had never heard of Pitocin and she didn't even KNOW FOR SURE when she was supposed to "deliver".
Hospitals have a lot of great qualities but they are not really set up to facilitate the natural birthing mother. Health insurance is pretty rad, but the 5 minute visits that you get with your OB are probably not enough to educate you on what you need to know as far as exercise and nutrition for pregnancy. A trained OB is a fabulous thing in a lot of situations, but there is a good chance that he/she has NEVER seen a woman deliver TRULY naturally. NEVER.
I sincerely wish every woman the birth she wants. I hope that they get it even if they don't put ten minutes of thought into it. The ugly truth though is that it is probably pretty unlikely that the stars will align for you. I am not trying to scare you, really I am not. But you deserve to know the truth. You will most likely get out of your birth exactly what you put into it.
If your contribution is junky food, couch sitting, the first doctor on your insurance list, the closest hospital, a clueless partner and reading "What to Expect," then you will probably get a typical, assembly line birth. The typical birth today means Pitocin at some point, an epidural, and a 30% chance of major surgery. Frankly, I think those odds suck.
What can you do? Read as many good books as possible, take a great birth class, practice with your partner, learn to relax, exercise well, eat healthy (and find out what that is for a pregnant woman), hire a midwife, carefully choose your birth place and care provider. You can prepare. I can guarantee that my first birth (over 50 hours and with 4 hours of pushing) would have ended in a c-section if I hadn't taken the class I did and learned what I learned. I would not have been one of the lucky ones.
Another ugly truth: sometimes even if you do everything you can, things still go horribly wrong. That is life and that sucks too. We can't control everything. The key is to do what WE CAN and let go of the rest. Then, if things go wrong, we KNOW we did our best.
Birth in peace- I am thinking of you!