I’m going to take the opportunity here to be unapologetically honest—I am a big advocate for natural birth. For clarity’s sake, natural birth to me means labor without intervention or pain-killing medication. I do not believe that “some people just can’t deliver without the drugs.” A hundred and fifty years ago, you would have had no choice.
Now, by my own definition, I did not have a natural labor. My labor was jumpstarted with the use of cervidil, a drug that helps to efface the cervix. I chose that route because my baby’s fluid had gotten low, and I believed it was in her best interests. Of course, the number one priority for any family is healthy mama and healthy baby. I don’t believe that an epidural contributes towards that.
I won’t go into all the potential risks associated with medical intervention here—that information is easily accessible. What I want to talk about here is the philosophy that accompanies a natural labor.
Firstly, a woman’s body is designed to deliver a child successfully. An obstetrician’s role in labor is that of a lifeguard—you don’t need them unless something goes wrong. While I am thankful for the presence of trained medical professionals in the antepartum unit, they are not required unless something goes amiss.
The likelihood of something going amiss increases dramatically after the use of medical intervention. Intervention begets intervention, so to speak. Now, some of these are medically necessary, but they represent the minority. Overall, most women choose to get the epidural because they are disempowered, uninformed and unprepared for labor.
I’ve heard people say time and time again, “Well, I’d like to have a natural birth, but I’m going to see how it goes.” I’m going to answer that question for you: it’s going to fucking hurt. Are you waiting to see if it’s not going to hurt? Your body is taking nearly a year out to prepare for this. This is some serious shit. If you go into it with a wishy-washy attitude, you will get your ass handed to you and a needle in your spine.
And here we come to the real challenge: people don’t like to be scared. People don’t like pain. People don’t like being uncomfortable. People don’t like to admit that something is going to be hard. And people don’t like to prepare. We’re a society of “I’ll handle that later…I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it…It probably won’t be so bad.” As a financial services professional, I see it time and time again when it comes down to saving for retirement, paying down debts, or buying life insurance. People just don’t want to think ahead or prepare for something that they know they can’t control.
However, success happens when circumstances meet preparation. The nine months your body gives you to prepare for labor are a gift. You should take advantage of them. Eat well, exercise, prepare your mind and your body for what’s to come. What you do now will affect another life in profound ways. And you will have the opportunity to experience yourself as you never have before.