Monday, April 1, 2013

Natural Childbirth Part 2 - Some Benefits of a Natural Birth

Last time I talked about our experience with taking the Bradley Method class. As a result of that class, when it came time to give birth the first time, I felt ready. Of course I was nervous because it was all new to me, but I felt prepared in many ways. And Nik, my husband, felt prepared as well.

In many, many cultures natural childbirth is just a part of life. And wisdom for birthing is passed on generationally, so there is much less mystery to the whole process. But in the US birth has really been boxed into a sterile hospital room where the doctor runs the show and the mom just shows up and does what she is told. I feel so strongly that women need to be empowered and encouraged. Our bodies were made to do this! And while the experience for every mom is different, and there are of course exceptions where natural child birth is not possible, natural childbirth has so many incredible benefits, including:
  • Mama empowerment. I felt amazing knowing that I birthed a child into this world naturally. Now please don't get me wrong, giving birth is an AMAZING accomplishment no matter how it happens, but knowing that my body was made by God to do this, something in me felt a longing to do it without medicine. I felt strong and courageous and a huge satisfaction knowing that I had done it (with God's help and an awesome coach of course :) ). 
  • A more alert baby. Often, but probably not always, babies who are born without medical intervention are more alert upon delivery because they don't have those pain meds going through their bodies.
  • Just one more healthy gift to the baby. I don't personally believe that medication during birth is a deal breaker to a healthy baby being born. However, I do believe in giving every possible blessing and health benefit to baby that we can. When a mom receives pain medication during delivery this does get transferred to the baby and can have effects. My first nutritionist said that she has worked with many moms whose babies developed reflux as a result of being exposed to meds during their delivery. Medication can have a negative effect on the mom's and baby's digestive track. A healthy gut is essential to overall health. Not to mention the toxins that get transferred to the baby through the medication. So if we want to give our babies the very best start to a healthy life, natural childbirth is really something worth considering.
  • A quicker recovery for Mama. I have had a few friends who have experienced both natural birth and medically aided births. And most of them have commented that they definitely recovered quicker from the natural birth. Plus, it is WONDERFUL to be up and mobile right after giving birth, seriously!
  • Tagged onto that last point, when you are not being medded up, you can be mobile during your birth. I was very mobile during my last birth, which also happened to be my longest. But due to my mobility I also believe it was probably my easiest birth. 
Are there costs to a natural birth? OBVIOUSLY! If not we wouldn't have so many medical interventions these days. But I am convinced that part of the problem is that we have psyched ourselves out as women. We have become so scared of natural child birth and we don't believe in ourselves, that we can do it. And it doesn't help that we live in a culture where everything is supposed to come easy, without a price. Why pay a cost when you don't have to? 

My view on childbirth is that it is a gift from God to give birth. What is more amazing than bringing life into this world through your own body? I feel so blessed to be a woman and to have this privilege. There was some serious pain involved, yes. But still I believed for each of my birth experiences to be a good one, and I can honestly say, that in midst of the pain, each one was such a wonderful experience - a true gift from God! This is much more possible for us women than our culture would have us believe! 

I want to end with a word of balance. Because of the culture we live in, natural childbirth is not incredibly common. And therefore I do think it is a legitimately tough decision to make. I have the utmost of respect for every woman who brings life into this world, whether through natural means or not. I encourage women to at least think through their decision, and not just lightly follow the crowd. But ultimately my intention is NOT to cast any condemnation on any woman who chooses differently than I did. We are all unique women who have not walked a day in any one else's shoes and therefore it is not our job to judge one another, but rather to support and encourage each other in this venture of birth and motherhood!

In my third and final post on Natural Childbirth, I will share some keys that I have found helpful to succeeding in giving birth without intervention. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the history of childbirth in this country and about what your options really are, I recommend viewing "The Business of Being Born", an excellent documentary on the subject!

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