During “Best of” Week, a discussion was generated over Molly Remer of Talk Birth’s post called “What to Expect When You Go to the Hospital for a Natural Childbirth.” The question that came up was “What is a natural birth?”
I don’t know.
I jumped in the discussion and proceeded to have a very, very busy week with minimal internet time. Yesterday I stopped in my tracks and asked myself, “Did I really write ‘blow it out your ass’ on the Facebook Fan Page?”
Indeed I did.
“Natural birth” remains a catch-all phrase but it’s really not the most accurate when talking about working to make sure that a range of options is available to women in the perinatal period and that women are treated respectfully and with honesty. Plus, the term carries with it a few generations of baggage. I sometimes fall back on it, too, just because… I don’t know.
My views on natural/normal are focused more on what would be the best health care decision. I guess it would be looking at what the body would do if uninterrupted. Then add needed interventions that are in the best interest of the laboring mother-baby dyad. Set that as optimal in terms of health. Then factor in patient preferences such as pain relief and anesthesia, noting that sometimes these are included in with the necessary interventions depending on what’s going on.
As with any transition in life and potentially unpredictable event, birth opens itself up to lots of spiritual, philosophical and mystical beliefs. Frankly, I can’t think of events more powerful that sucking in that first breath of air and exhaling the very last. In the last century, we’ve seen the burden of producing a psychologically perfect child heaped on the mother and that belief also worms its way into discussions of birth. I do my best to avoid that when talking about the health benefits of avoiding unnecessary surgery. To me, birth is a beautiful event and it’s really, really amazing when women know their rights, understand what is happening, are treated respectfully, are supported in being as close to their baby as they want to be and letting “nature” unfold under a trusted and watchful eye. If “nature” isn’t going as planned and intervention is needed or wanted, I believe that most women will welcome needed interventions (or wanted interventions) if they are treated respectfully and can trust that they are receiving accurate, honest information.
However, with defensive medicine in action, who can you really trust?
Anyway, I don’t like having spiritual beliefs and judgments dumped on me anymore than the next person. If you’re going to tell me that the fentanyl I took made my birth spiritually flawed or my daughter is less of a child of the universe or whatever, I’ll tell you to blow it out your ass. You can work your spiritual beliefs out for yourself. But if you tell me that fentanyl has some crappy side effects that they don’t tell you about and has the potential to compromise fetal health and could delay bonding if that’s important to me, I’ll listen. Because that’s true. THAT is natural birth advocacy and education to me. But the whole natural! birth! makes! superior! humans! mindset freaks me out on many levels. Know what I mean?
So now I have two questions:
How do you define “natural birth?”
Did Fentanyl actually relieve any pain for anyone? Because THAT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. The pain magnified but I was too doped up to do anything but moan, grunt and writhe around. Thankfully it wore off, a kind nurse set up the squat bar and I got active. I didn’t realize until after my second birth that birth doesn’t have to leave you feeling like you got hit by a bus. Except for maybe your tailbone.