As a doula in Southern California, I am more often than not supporting women through a natural birth, taking place in a hospital. It truly is an interesting environment. Bright lights, noises from various machines, nurses walking in and out, and being poked and prodded whenever “necessary.” Before becoming a doula, I spent very little time in a hospital. To me, it always signified a place where one goes when there is an emergency.
But is birth really an emergency? Of course like anything, there are times when normal situations become emergencies, and thank God we have these kind of skilled professionals awaiting us in these moments. However, I think that we have forgotten what a natural process labor and birth really is. Humans have been giving birth at home for 999,998 generations, and it’s only in the last 2 generations that hospital birth has become common. Yet in the U.S. today, fewer than 1 percent of births happen in the home. This abrupt and almost complete transition from natural home birth toward hospital industrialized childbirth has had profound repercussions on mothers, babies and our culture at large. This is evidence that the medical establishment has done a fantastic job convincing people that hospital birth is “normal”, in spite of the fact that home birth has been the default choice for 99.998% of human history.
With that being said, I am so genuinely proud of women for finally beginning to understand that they have choices and that they can still have a natural birth even within hospital walls. Currently, some may call having a doula or choosing to have a natural birth a “trend.” If thats the case, bring it on! If a trend ultimately brings women a greater satisfaction level and a lesser chance of unnecessary interventions and surgical births, then join the band wagon ladies!
The truth is that nothing is guaranteed. Birth is still, thankfully, one of the greatest unknowns. We live in a world where almost anything can be answered by google or Suri. We can read books, take classes, and prepare all we want, but still, we won’t really be in “control” of our labor. This statement should not scare us. This statement should make us recognize the importance of trust. Trust that birth is a natural normal event. Trust that your body is designed to create a baby, nurture a baby, and birth a baby. Trust that thousands and millions of women have done this very thing naturally; in rivers, in homes, in forests, and in hospitals successfully before you.
Do I think that one should walk blindly into birth? Absolutely not. I think that education is knowledge, and knowledge is power. I think that every women should take classes, read books, hire a doula, practice prenatal yoga, explore her options. There are things that you should know.
Things such as: Positions that can speed up or slow down labor, that can change the position of the baby if he/she is causing a lull in the labor process. Breathing techniques and visualizations that can help you manage the sensations. Understanding the stages of labor, and what to expect and what you can do to help your body during the process.
Should you choose to have a birth within a hospital, you need to know even more. A hospital is a medical place. Its not a bad place. It is just filled with people who have been trained to trust medicine over ourselves. There are procedures, and medical interventions, and policies, and timelines, and nurse rotations. If you walk blindly into a birth within a hospital, you will find yourself working with a “one-size-fits-all” kind of birth. They do not always take the time to consider you. You and your partner. You and your unique body and the immaculate wondrous miracle of birth your body is performing.
Do I believe that all births should be at home? No. Do I believe that it is possible to have a “gentle birth” and a natural birth at the hospital? Yes. But, I also believe that we have to work a lot harder to achieve this. That is why it is SO important for you to do your homework. To find out what kind of birth you believe in. To research the facts on the drugs used in a hospital. What the risks are for you and your baby. To research the procedures done to the babies immediately after birth. To research and interview multiple midwives and OBGYN’s until you find one that fits you. Not a one-size-fits-all you.
Just know that anything that disturbs a laboring woman’s sense of safety and privacy will disrupt the birth process. Today in a hospital, which has created an entire industry around the observation and monitoring of pregnant and birthing women, perform various tests and techniques throughout labor which can be uncomfortable and even painful, all of which are performed by people who are essentially strangers to the woman herself. It’s no wonder that the number one reason for c-section today is “failure to progress.” Women are not comfortable, and cannot relax into the process. So suggestions of augmentation is made, and when that fails, c-section is next.
In the 2006 survey, around 50% of women were artificially induced; almost 75% had an epidural; and 33% gave birth by c-section with hospital births.
Other studies have shown that women who plan home birth have around a 70-80% chance of giving birth without intervention. And because of low use of drugs, home-born babies are more alert and in better condition than those born in the hospital.
This is the birth of your child. It is the biggest responsibility you have. We need start thinking about making the right choices for our children before they even arrive. Deep down we all know what kind of parents we long to be. Yet, most most of us feel that we become parents when the baby arrives. It takes place long before that. Eating healthy foods during pregnancy, thinking positive thoughts, preparing for the baby emotionally and physically are all part of the process. Understanding how important the birth of your child is for them individually, soulfully. There are so many studies and research that prove the benefits of a natural gentle birth.
I encourage you all to ask yourself the hard questions. What do I want to gain from the birthing process? What am I willing to loose? What am I afraid of? Who can I turn to for support? What do I believe?
A women is born the day she gives birth to her child. It is a natural, God given right to participate in the process of your labor. To go through the emotions, the sensations, the peaks and valleys of faith and doubt. Once you have succeeded in this, you are prepared for anything. Your Mama Bear instincts comes out and you are ready to fiercely protect your child. There is so much magic involved with a natural birth. We are reminded that we are a part of this amazing universe!
Please take the time to do your research. You can start here.
- Natural childbirth I: is homebirth more dangerous than hospital birth?
- Natural childbirth IIa: is ultrasound necessary and effective during pregnancy?
- Natural childbirth IIb: ultrasound not as safe as commonly thought
- Natural childbirth III: why undisturbed birth?
- Natural childbirth IV: the hormones of birth
- Natural childbirth V: epidural side effects and risks
- Natural childbirth VI: Pitocin side effects and risks
- Natural childbirth VII: Cesarean risks and complication
Research and statistics from: www.chriskresser.com
Watch the trailer for the movie “The Business of Being Born”
Watch a video of a beautiful home birth
Visit my resources page for more.