I have been immersed in anatomy and physiology classes since January. These classes are known as “the gatekeepers” of various programs, including the nursing program I hope to enter in about a year or so. I have been fascinated by all of the intricacies of the human body. I thought I would be bored with all of the non-birth-and-babies systems (official term, y’all), but I have been pleasantly surprised. I’ve enjoyed gaining an overview of all of the body systems.
These classes have taught me that nature has done a pretty amazing job at designing our bodies. Most of the time, bodies work. Often, when bodies malfunction, there are systems in place to correct those problems. When problems arise that are beyond our body’s abilities to handle them, we have doctors and hospitals to help us out. Much of the time, they can help us. Sometimes they can’t. Sometimes we just don’t make it. Nature has designed it that way. All of our bodies stop working eventually.
I still believe that most of the time, the birth process works.
I still believe that most of the time, bodies are designed to give birth.
I still believe that natural birth is an amazing way to have a baby. For those who want to.
I still feel so proud of myself for my three amazing, natural births.
I still believe “natural birth” is a thing.
I still believe that wanting to give birth naturally is a worthy goal and one worth working toward.
I still believe that there are many people out there with an inherent desire to give birth in a way that encompasses the fullness of the experience, that is beyond words, and that many people can only describe using the word “natural.”
Natural. Organic. Unrefined. Pure. Raw. Plain. Whole.
As close to the original form as possible.
As nature intended.
I meet with many people who tell me that they want a natural childbirth, and they get this gleam in their eyes that never gets old. They are excited and hopeful. They believe that their bodies work and that experiencing birth in its natural form will be one of their life’s greatest moments. I ask them what “natural” means to them and why they want to experience it. Most say, “I don’t know. I just want to experience birth as nature intended. I want to give birth without drugs, and I definitely want to avoid a Cesarean.”
Cesareans are not evil or wrong or less-than. They save lives much of the time.
But so many people want to avoid them. Even those people who don’t care to have a natural birth still want to avoid a Cesarean. Why?
It’s a rhetorical question for now, but one worth considering.
Dictionary.com defines natural childbirth as:
- “childbirth involving little or no use of drugs or anesthesia and usually involving a program in which the mother is psychologically and physically prepared for the birth process.”
I honestly had no idea that dictionary.com had a definition for natural childbirth before today. I know this term has been hotly debated in many birth groups over the years and has caused many people a lot of anguish. When I first became a doula over eight years ago, it seemed that natural childbirth was finally gaining some traction in the birth world. More people became interested and there were more people willing to support it. And then, the natural childbirth community began to fall out of favor. People began to deride the term “natural childbirth.” Many childbirth classes began to remove that terminology from their curriculum.
I’ve thought about why this may have happened, but there are too many reasons to list. Maybe it had to do with some super judgmental people saying some truly awful things to those who needed birth interventions. Maybe it had to do with the way some people felt like their bodies failed them when they couldn’t give birth naturally. Maybe it had to do with all the shame everyone was trying to sling at each other for every single choice we were making in our parenting journeys. Or maybe it was because we did everything right, and dammit, we should have had a natural birth. And it hurts to hear about people who didn’t even try and didn’t even care have one. There are so many possibilities.
But I still believe in natural childbirth. I don’t believe that erasing or making fun of the term changes anything. People are still going to want to experience it. And I will still be here to help them if they do.