Ever since I was old enough to understand where babies came from, I knew that birthing was the epitome of pain. At least that’s what I was taught. God’s curse upon Eve for taking a bite from the apple was to have painful childbirth. Hey, that’s what the Bible said. I believed it.
Pair that with Western culture’s reliance on the all-knowing medical industry, “trust us, we’re the experts,” I was convinced that I had no idea how to birth a baby. And that it would be excruciating.
Logically, when I found I was pregnant with my first child I made an appointment with an OB/GYN and put EVERYTHING in their hands. My trust, my decision making, my birth plan (really? I had no birth plan, it was to just do what I was told by the doctors and nurses.) I completely surrendered to modern medicine, trusting that they knew what was best for my body and my baby. I didn’t even know what my options were. Wait, I had options?
I’ve witnessed puppies being born. I’ve seen lambs drop fresh from their mother’s womb. I’ve seen the nature documentaries with all sorts of species giving birth. And in all those instances, how is it that the animals calmly and without complaint make it through? Why are we -an animal species- experiencing birth so incredibly differently?
My answer used to be, “because we’re cursed. It’s supposed to be difficult and painful, that’s just the way it is for women. Can’t blame God, blame our sinful nature.” (Ugh, I cringe at the thought now.)
But my answer today is, “because we’ve built a fear culture around giving birth and we’ve lost faith in the beautiful way our bodies are optimally designed to naturally and easily bring forth our babies.” And I will also add that because of horrible nutrition, more women are experiencing unnecessary complications in pregnancy. We haven’t gotten worse at giving birth, we’ve gotten worse at taking care of our health. And that is easily reversible. Preaching it here, but it’s true: a low-fat whole food plant based diet (free of processed foods) provides optimal health. Call me a radical, but the science is irrefutable.
Did you grow up knowing about the options of childbirth? Did you know about midwives, birth centers, home births, water births and the like? Well, I sure as heck didn’t. I had heard that women in developing countries would stop in the middle of working a field or take a quick break in their hut while caring for their families to squat down and drop a baby, then resume their work, but I couldn’t fathom that “regular” people knew what in the heck to do besides hail a cab for the hospital. Heaven forbid they give birth in the taxi -that poor, clueless, lost mother having to do this dangerous thing called childbirth all on her OWN!
We’re scared. The medical profession seems to like it that way. It makes them money. It makes the insurance companies money. It keeps the folks in the system employed and us reliant on them. It’s a nice little circle.
It took us not having insurance to begin to look at alternatives to hospital births. And, I tell you what, I was scared out of my PANTS. I had known one other woman who had given birth naturally with midwives at her home and -God bless her- I thought she was nuts. Giving birth outside of a hospital was dangerous -irresponsible. What if something happened? What if you needed emergency treatment? What does a midwife really know about birthing a baby? Isn’t it all just hippy-dippy hocus pocus they do?
And the overriding emotion was fear. Skeptical, yes, I was. Fearful, you bet your socks.
Until I started reading. And researching. And hearing other women’s stories of natural birthing.
I was blown away. Both my husband and I were. Where had this information been all my life?!
Marie Mongan, mother of Hypnobirthing, opened up the possibility that I can successfully and with limited discomfort (or free of discomfort, in many cases) naturally birth. And the removal of fear around birthing is #1 on her list to creating the right mindset that we were born to have. Just as animals relax and release their young from their womb, we can, too.
Being so brainwashed into thinking that childbirth is painful and fear-filled, I have to remind myself daily that I am built to birth. That my body is beautifully, intelligently created to bring my children into this world. It’s as normal and natural as the waves coming up and receding on the beach.
I highly recommend reading Mongan’s book, Hypnobirthing, and keeping it as a pregnancy reference. Have your partner read it, your mother -anyone who is going to be your support system and who may still be wary or on the fence about unmedicated natural birth.
When we release fear and embrace our fabulous state of nature, birth changes from something scary and dreaded to the most transformative, powerful and life-altering event in our lives.