Photo by Darah Bridgeman of Hannah’s homebirth
We’ve all read the articles, I don’t need to chronicle them here. And we’ve all got the eye roll from our families and friends that do not understand natural birth.
Do you want a medal or something?
No, I don’t. But I do want you to know about our failing birth system and how amazing a natural birth is. How it was meant to be. The way it was designed to feel. How incredible and yes, safe it is.
Heck, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with an article stating that breastfeeding should be reconsidered if it causes people to think natural is best for all heath care decisions. Um, excuse me?
It isn’t that women who birth naturally want a medal, a pat on the back, or acknowledgement that they are the “best” despite what popular culture would have you believe.
Is the Natural Birth Community Shaming Women?
No, they’re not. They are sharing their stories— their good stories — and hoping it inspires more women. They are not sharing their stories to shame others.
The women who are proud of their accomplishment — and let’s be real it is an accomplishment — deserve to share their stories. We deserve to hear their stories. If they don’t share, we will not know what a positive birth experience is like.
Clearly, natural birth is in the minority. This isn’t a case of the majority flaunting their accepted opinion over everyone and not caring what they think. It’s the story of women who rose above the accepted norms with their own blood, sweat, tears, and education. And, they want you to be able to do that, too, if you want to.
Likewise, no, we should not shame women who did not get their ideal natural birth. They may have truly needed medical help, and that’s okay. Maybe they didn’t know better, and that’s okay. They may have been afraid, and that’s okay. Or maybe they were bullied, and that is not okay.
Our medical system bullies and traumatizes parents and individuals — especially African American women — into thinking that the white coat knows best, that patients don’t deserve true informed consent, and that there will be legal or medical repercussions if they don’t “submit” to what the doctor orders.
The Medical System is Shameful
Mother’s should not be shamed, but the modern medical system? That’s a whole different story. As the maternal mortality rate in other developed countries decreases, the rate only increases in the United States. NPR and Propublica investigated and found these glaring issues:
- More American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country. Only in the U.S. has the rate of women who die been rising.
- There’s a hodgepodge of hospital protocols for dealing with potentially fatal complications, allowing for treatable complications to become lethal.
- Hospitals — including those with intensive care units for newborns — can be woefully unprepared for a maternal emergency.
- Federal and state funding show only 6 percent of block grants for “maternal and child health” actually go to the health of mothers.
- In the U.S, some doctors entering the growing specialty of maternal-fetal medicine were able to complete that training without ever spending time in a labor-delivery unit.
I would add to that list with the growing issue of doctors that do not allow informed patients in their practice or delivery wards, swearing off the use of doulas or vaginal birth after cesarean.
With these sorts of stats and practices, it’s no wonder women must be louder than ever to demand the change they wish to see to keep themselves and their babies alive.
We Want to Hear Every Birth Story
The truth is that every birth story should be heard. We shouldn’t look at birth as “well, at least the mother and baby survived,” but instead ask ourselves how it can be great. How it can be experienced as the transformational event that it is. To have that conversation, we need to include every type of birth story.
Do you think the natural birth community is shaming women?
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