Birth Blog

I am an educator, not a judge.

by Julia West on May 23, 2013

If you have read any part of my website, you know I am a natural birth and breastfeeding advocate. I believe both have endless benefits to moms, babies and even dads! I also believe that with the adequate education, moms and dads can make informed, confident decisions, be more satisfied with their birth experiences and benefit from them long after their baby’s birth day!

What this does not mean: I do not hold grudges or ill will toward any one who chose (or ended up on) a different path. Any angst or frustration that may come across in my shared thoughts is not directed personally at you, your mother, your sister, or your neighbor or even your OB (maybe…), but rather at the common disregard for women during pregnancy and labor. I fully acknowledge that I do not know the circumstances of every family, every birth story, every mother’s medical history. And I certainly do not think choosing a medicated birth makes you a bad mama! Above all, I believe every baby’s birth is a blessed event and should be celebrated! Natural birth is one of my passions, but I can find lots of other things in common with mamas besides our birth experiences. If you agree with any one of the following statements, we have plenty to talk about other than our preference/opinion/choices about childbirth and breastfeeding:

– You love your kids
– You are OCD about straightening up the house before bed (when no one sees it…?)
– You want to be a good wife
– You care about your family’s health
– You read books
– You struggle with making a meal plan (or if you’re good at this, help me!)
– You like music
– You love Jesus (and if not, we should definitely talk!)
– You like coffee (/you’re already thinking about it before you go to sleep at night, as in “I can’t wait until morning so I can drink my coffee!”)

If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with natural birth or out-of-hospital births, please give me a chance to prove I’m not crazy! I know there are times that interventions are the best option and even save lives and for that I am SO thankful! However, those interventions are often used without just cause and can actually make birth MORE dangerous and, at the least, more complicated for mothers and babies. I do see some seriously backward practices in many of our modern medical circles. And I am dumb founded by the way common sense is often ignored by birth professionals who should know better (i.e. making a laboring woman lay on her back rather than using gravity to bring her baby down.) I know there are risks during pregnancy and labor, but did you know the outcomes for mothers and babies are actually the same, if not better, in out-of-hospital births as hospital births? (Check out recent studies here and here.) Many OBs have rarely or never seen a natural birth! They fail to recognize the mental and emotional components of birth. They would prefer women to believe the best outcomes are the most controlled, and for most women, that is just not true. (I found this article, written by an OB, to be really interesting!) Our culture has lost sight of how simple and beautiful the birth process can be without interventions. I do not believe we have to choose between safe and fulfilling birth experiences.
For those of you that were happy with your epidural and plan to get one every time, know that I respect your right to do so. (I do hope every woman is fully informed about the ways epidurals effect women in labor, but I respect your right to choose it.) Please also realize there are some mothers who made choices in favor of interventions and they were not satisfied with the outcomes. They deserve to know there is another way. Those women are the ones who really influenced my path toward natural birth. Women very close to me have confided that they were scared, belittled, bullied and/or felt helpless during the birth of their child. Their stories prove how quickly the interventions can get out of hand and cause birth to be much more complicated than it should be. Maybe you had an induction turned c-section and you’re confused about what happened. I offer a hug and support. Maybe you had an emergency c-section that saved your baby and your life. I rejoice with you! Maybe you are mourning a traumatic birth experience. I mourn with you. We mothers could all keep to ourselves and not share our experiences, but I believe BIRTH MATTERS and is important enough to talk about!

So when I compliment someone who came through birth without pain medication, I am not degrading women who used medication. I am supporting a woman’s strength and perseverance and relating to her because of our common ground. I do not mean to put any one else down. I am interested in every birth story, no matter the method, and love hearing a woman describe her feelings about the moments she brought her child into the world.
If you are not interested in natural birth, please do not be offended by my drive to teach it. Please respect that the subject has a place to help women heal and overcome their fears about childbirth. And maybe even consider it for yourself. Even if you choose to have a medicated birth, you can absolutely benefit from a birth class! Knowledge is power! Birth classes help you know how to stay healthy and low-risk during pregnancy, teach about your options for birth and give you topics to discuss with your care provider. Just because someone is a qualified OB, midwife or nurse does not mean they share your values. We should all be able to trust our care providers during those precious moments that we are the most challenged and the most vulnerable, and we should accept nothing less.

We’re all mothers with our own stories and that gives us plenty of common ground. But if you are interested in natural birth, I would love to talk about it with you, too- preferably over a cup of coffee!

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