Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trusting Birth

What does trusting birth mean?

For some, it is a frightening thought. How could we possibly birth without doctors, nurses, surgical procedures, machines and hospitals? But if this is so, how did we get so far? Certainly we haven't always had access to cesareans, episiotomies, IVs and epidurals.

A mere 30 years ago, the cesarean rate was less than 10%. Now it is over 30%. We're still women. Our bodies haven't changed in 30 years. Why can't women successfully give birth today like our parents did?

The answer is that very few trust birth anymore. This is a terrible loss for humanity. We live in fear of a natural bodily function. We see it on television on reality birth shows. We hear it from our doctors who tell us that we are not capable of passing our babies through our pelvises without intervention. We hear from nurses that we won't be able to bear the pain. What else are women supposed to think?

Fortunately, some women are finding the light at the end of the tunnel. Some of us are spreading the word that birth is something we are built to do successfully. As my friend Karen Strange of Newborn Breath says, "Birth is designed to work in case no one is there."

I admit that nothing is perfect 100% of the time. Let's face it... what is? There will always be a very small percentage of births that do need that extra help... and that is what hospitals and obstetricians are for. They are designed to deal with the unusual situation. Normal birth is so boring for them they need to do interventions to make it interesting.

But for those of us who have a healthy pregnancy, all we need is to let our bodies do their thing. Pelvises spread to let babies out. Women who embrace labor and move as their body tells them to help their babies get in the right position to make their grand entrance.

Why do I trust birth? Because I've seen it work. I've lived it. I've done the labor dance and have been the first to touch my baby. I'm not a big person... yet I've birthed babies over ten pounds at home. I have embraced the pain, have felt the baby move from my belly and through my hips. It wasn't easy, but it was worth every minute. I have felt that delicious hormonal cocktail that floods a woman's body after the natural birth of a baby. Flooded with oxytocin and love for my newborn, I have experienced that incredible babymoon while getting to know this new little person.

Maybe my views are a little simplistic. I may not be quite as confident if I were the midwife in charge of someone else's birth. But maybe that is the point. Maybe we should take responsibility for ourselves. Even if we have an attendant, we should be able to make the decision to be responsible for the outcome. Maybe that is the real reason I trust birth. I'm okay with the responsibility.


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