LorelNicolette's Journal

Confessions, reflections and rants

I haven't posted here in a while so I thought I would share my most recent Nurturing Notion's post.  Enjoy :-)

Natural Childbirth is Not as Crazy as it Seems

Why any woman would choose to have a baby unmedicated is an oddity to some.  I think this lack of understanding stems from a general misunderstanding of the birth process; the idea that birth is unbearably painful, and the only way through it comfortably is to medicate the body.  Some even have a hard time accepting that the baby will fit through the exit safely.  Where there is misunderstanding, there is bound to be division among people. 

The particular misunderstanding I am pondering at the moment is the idea that women who decide on a natural birth are trying to prove something.  That natural birth is pointless given modern technology’s greatest gift, the epidural.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I received an epidural during my son’s birth, and that was the one drug that I felt was necessary given the circumstances.  The reason this notion bugs me is because I find it quite unsettling that anyone would ever misread me, or anyone for that matter, as trying to prove something for no good reason.  

I can’t speak for every woman, but I know that for me it went beyond trying to prove something.  Heck, I signed up for the pain management program, Hypnobabies, because I am not someone who deals with pain well.  For me, the decision to go natural was so that I could bring my baby into the world safely.  So that I could become more familiar with my body and what it is capable of.  I also sought to find out if Grantly Dick-Read was right about childbirth being a normal process that can be comfortable for the majority of women given the right preparation. 

It wasn’t until I experienced how empowering natural birth can be, that I understood at a deeper level why my intuition steered me towards it. 

There is something that happens to a woman when she feels the rushes, and allows the power to surge through her body without fighting it.  When this happens a woman is at one with her body.  She is allowing her body to work per it’s design as to facilitate the arrival of the unborn baby.  Being connected during this intense process can be transformational, as a woman is forced to confront her deepest fears and scale walls she never thought possible.  A woman empowered through birth knows her inner strength and trusts her motherly intuition.  A natural birth also means one less barrier to connecting with the newborn baby.

I love these quotes, and think they accurately reflect what I am trying to say…

"There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don't ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it." ~ Sheryl Feldman 

"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength." -Barbara Katz Rothman

Now that is not to say that birth is the only way a mother can connect.  It’s a good place to start though, in my opinion, given all the challenging aspects that present them self along the parenting journey. 

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Jan. 11, 2011 at 7:42 AM

I had both my babies au naturel and had a parade of people through my hospital room each time to see the "incredible" woman who did this amazing feat. Which is just silly.  One of my sisters, when told I turned down the offered epidural, asked "why? why would you do that?". I am proud of myself for having such easy, very natural and, frankly, wonderful birth experiences. I know many people do not, but there are so many disappointed and traumatized women, I think it is important for people to know that it is possible to have a great birth experience with well-managed pain without medical interventions. It really is, and it starts with your own mindset. Great journal, Lorel.

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Jan. 11, 2011 at 8:32 AM

I had a hard time writing up and posting this piece because I know there are a large number of women who did not get to experience what I speak of.  I am sure this type of information is hard to read for women who feel they missed out. 

Even so, I felt compelled to move forward given the rhetoric I keep hearing and reading.  The thing that pushed me to write this is the idea that women like you and me deserve metals for what we did.  I personally felt that comment to be extremely undermining of why women choose to bring their baby into the world this way.

Thanks for your response.  It is nice to be understood :-)

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Jan. 11, 2011 at 1:30 PM

I know that some people have horrible experiences, and I truly feel for them. And people who feel they did not have the experience they wanted who feel defensive or hostile about how things went. I understand this and feel compassion for people, and certainly do not feel medals are warranted, but I feel good about my experience and internal strength - and you are so right about a positive natural experience changing you and giving you confidence.  I wonder why we feel it is necessary to negate others' experiences to justify our own, rather than just learn what we must from our own journey? I try to tell expectant mothers' my positive experience (when asked) because so many people tell their trauma stories and instill a sense of fear and trepidation. To my mind, that fear and anxiety is one of the biggest disservices we do to our bodies when preparing for childbirth. I'm happy you found something that helped you. I'm also a strong believer in embracing the fact that a woman's, and baby's, bodies are specifically designed for a natural birth, and believing in our own capacity for it. But of course I would, given my experience! :)

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Jan. 11, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Same here!

I would never want to dismiss a mother's experience, but like you, I feel that positive experiences should definitely be shared too.  There is something to be learned regardless of how a birth experience goes down. 

That is the beauty of the human experience....there are lessons to be learned from both good and bad things that happen to us all throughout life.  The hard part is putting our ego aside so that we can continue to learn and evolve.  

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Jan. 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM


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Jan. 12, 2011 at 4:32 PM

You know what?  You can skip all the mushy talk about how it empowers women.  Going natural, for most women, is the safest way to give birth.  Unless indicated, interventions can cause more problems than they try to prevent.  An epi (which I had with my daughter and begged for one with my son) leaves you unable to move.  This can slow down your child getting engaged in the birth canal.  Being up and moving around will naturally allow your child to get into the best position for arrival. 

When you are numb, you also cannot give birth any other way than lying on your back.  This decreases the amount of space available for your child to move through.  Throughout the ages women have given birth standing, squatting and on their hands and knees (I did this with Lincoln).  There is a reason for this.  Gravity is your friend. I would also argue that this can decrease tears to the perineum.

If numb, you cannot feel your body.  When giving birth, your body "knows" what to do (again, I'm talking generally for most women).  The urge to push is almost indiscribable and was the coolest part of having Lincoln.  You know when to push, how hard to push, when to stop, if it hurts you stop...none of that "purple pushing" BS.  The feedback system while giving birth has been fine tuned over millions of years.  It's not always perfect but for most, it's quite amazing.

I haven't even touched the "cascade of interventions" than can follow during an augmented birth. (which I will skip)

The issue is lack of communication between women and generations.  Two centuries ago, women attended each other's birth.  A doctor was only called if there was a problem.  The knowledge surrounding menstruation, birth and breastfeeding was shared, if only by default because we were actively involved in those processes.  When it was "time to go", friends, families and neighbors were there to help you through labor and ways of coping with pain were shared and taught.  It was common knowledge back then that the most painful part of giving birth was transition but when discussing these things with other women the terms "most painful thing you will ever experience!!" wasn't part of the dialogue.  Labor and birth wasn't something to be feared but celebrated.  It pains me to think that we are still so in the dark about this process even now.  I know I was until after I had my daughter and began to look into "standard" practices.  What is mystery should be common knowledge and it's a shame that it's not and this ignorance continues to hurt women.

Now, I didn't comment to tell women what to do.  I had an epi with Ireland and it was fantastic.  No side-effects, it worked beautifully.  Ireland was a small baby, I hardly tore and it took, maybe, 10 minutes to push her out.  I wouldn't do it differently even with what I know now because the outcome was so good.  But I am here to inform and to encourage women to look into alternative pain management and to talk with those who have experienced natural birth.  Start the information campaign!

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Jan. 12, 2011 at 4:57 PM

If I could like your comment, MotherofIreland, I would :-)

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Jan. 13, 2011 at 7:40 PM

I tried to birth naturally with my first- but as I was 15 days over- they *made* me induce- and after 12 hours of 3 minute apart contractions with ZERO dilation!!! I took a pain shot and actually fell asleep between several contractions (back labor too)... egad it was nasty.. next birth was natural and easier- mainly because they (hospital) didn't believe me!!! And so I gave birth with hubby and a nurse in labor... I never even ended up moving out of that room as delivery was full...

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Jan. 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Fantastic journal...

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