I know I’m going to catch all kinds of heck for this… but I have to share my thoughts on the subject. We are at a critical point in the health of our world, and it is not only affecting our births, but it is coming from our births.
If you’re a birth advocate, chances are you’ve jumped on the bandwagon after having a great experience, or having a mediocre experience. You either want people to have the birth you did, or you want to help them avoid the birth you had. There are a lot of in between situations, but birth advocates don’t often come from that middle ground. However, how much do you actually keep learning about birth beyond your personal experience and listening to birth stories? About life? Do you know how much our culture influences our choices and physical ability to birth? To breastfeed? To parent peacefully? Many birth advocates go into advocacy with the idea that all of these things are a simple choice, if you only try hard enough. I even hear the words come out of people’s mouths “I support all births” but....
Is the way we birth a simple choice? What is the right way to birth? Are women magically able to birth normally simply because they choose to do so? I hate to say it, but that's BS. I’m sorry women, but no, there are no guarantees in birth.
The majority of women are capable of birthing their babies biologically. In the grand scheme of things, most babies would live and most mothers would live if left to their own devices. In most situations, we would likely even see healthier mothers and babies from non intervened births. Now, this doesn’t mean intervention can’t help save a life – or many – read over those sentences again. Of the majority that would survive (which is a whole lot), those mothers and babies would likely be healthier physically and emotionally – especially long term. Breastfeeding rates would be higher…etc. This doesn't mean this is *the* only way to birth. It simply means there is an intention behind birth - and it goes way beyond the postpartum weeks. We are just now seeing the effects of intervened births. This knowledge is powerful to women when choosing to learn more about birth, or go with the flow.
Now, because there *are* risks in birth, we are blessed to have interventions available to us – something not too many generations before us had access. The problem is created when we start using interventions because of fear or convenience rather than medical necessity. In fact, I would bet many of you reading this were born of a birth that had some form of intervention. However, we’ve only begun the experiment of birthing babies without spontaneous start of labor and natural oxytocin levels.
We need to pay special attention to the fact that unhealthy people create unhealthy pregnancies.
Unhealthy pregnancies lead to unhealthy births.
Unhealthy births lead to unhealthy breastfeeding experiences.
And then the list goes on… and yet, in spite of all the interventions we’re imposing on women and babies in our culture, the majority of them are still able to bring their baby earth side and struggle with breastfeeding and peaceful parenting. Did you catch that? STRUGGLE.
The BIRTH is supposed to be the struggle… the work… the labor… the feat of strength that says I AM WOMAN and I will do anything for this amazing creature that I have just created. For many generations, this was the first moment of meeting their baby. Even prior to the birth, we’re working hard to stay healthy. And then breastfeeding creates peace surrounding this child so that you will love and nurture this being over the early years before they’re capable being on their own. That part isn’t supposed to be a struggle.
It is not that all women are capable of birthing vaginally. It doesn’t simply just happen because our parts are designed magnificently (although, they are quite an amazing contraption). It happens in the *majority* of mothers who are HEALTHY. You CANNOT believe in normal, biological, healthy birth and do nothing to create that situation. Especially in a modern culture that has changed so many facets about life that we have to actually THINK about how our food is grown and the air we breathe. You can’t say “well, because I hired a midwife, I’m going to have a low intervention birth.” You can’t say “well, I ate a salad today, so I’m healthy.” You can’t sit on your butt with your body contorted, lounging in front of a TV… or a computer… or a phone… or a book… and believe your baby will actually be in their biologically intended position for an easy passage through birth. You can’t read a few books and know what you SHOULD do, and never do it… and then believe that you’re going to have this magical birth experience simply because the majority of women should be able to if only their mind is in the right place. I hate to tell ya, honey, but your body just doesn’t work that way.
Birth is physical and mental. You need to know that the MAJORITY of women have the *physical* ability of birthing their babies vaginally IF….. IF … THEY ARE HEALTHY. That doesn't even touch on the emotional health of the birthing mother.
Are you a birth advocate? How many women are you simply telling they can birth their babies vaginally, unmedicated, unhindered if they only believe in birth? Are you learning all that you can about how our lives affect our…. well…. lives? Our choices every day are affecting our ability to live the life biology intends us to live.
Are you a mother? How many times have you told a little fib about what you're eating and doing to stay healthy? Are you being honest with your provider about your health? Does this make the healthy birth experience you rave about, or will you have something to explain to someone after you birth? Are you taking this responsibility? Remember that your experience, especially when directly related to the choices you've made, will have a huge impact on the future ability of mothers to make the same choices as you. Birth experience (and all the choices that go with it) belongs to the mother.
Do you know what lack of sleep does to health? Lack of water? Lack of greens? Lack of sunlight? Lack of activity? Lack of support? How many people out there are getting adequate amounts of all of these vs. lacking in them? You just might be surprised and take a second look at how you're advocating for birth.
Our whole youth lives lead up until the childbearing years. Are you staying active? Are you gardening, squatting, walking, playing, drinking water, eating a rainbow of veggies and fruits and all things healthy? Things that haven’t been processed and loaded with pesticides? Things that have been able to vine ripen? Are you surrounding yourself with positive birth and parenting knowledge? Are you getting enough sunshine? Enough sleep? Enough support and love?
Variations to birth are common, and normal and feasible in many cases. But you will see many more unnecessary variations to birth if you’re not healthy. Is it the midwife, or obstetrician, or home, or hospital that has "saved" women in birth? Health doesn’t simply come from a location, owning a vagina, or a magical power of the mind. It comes from an action. And although we can make many choices that support our body’s ability to birth biologically, there are no choices that guarantee us any specific outcome. The mother makes the birth healthy. She is the first step to making birth safe because the only choice we can really make is to learn as much as we can about biological birth AND to take the necessary actions that stack the odds in favor of as close to a biological birth as possible for our specific situation.
Where are your odds stacked?