Birth Blog

“There is No Medal for Going Natural”

by Julia West on October 18, 2013

Birth is such a personal subject. Talking about birth can evoke a broad spectrum of strong emotions in any group of women because no mother wants to feel judged or ashamed of her birth choices or the outcomes. But when a group begins to share birth stories or plans, it becomes obvious experiences vary greatly.

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Some women plan a birth (cesarean, medicated or unmedicated) and it goes basically as they envisioned. Some do not plan and do not see how birth could have been any different than their experience. Some plan for birth, but circumstances change the plan and the birth ends up differently than they hoped/dreamed/expected. A group setting is really not the best place to dissect a birth experience- way too many microscopes! When discussing such a sensitive subject, EVERY woman should be shown respect and consideration. But I’ve personally heard these phrases that tend to discredit the desire to have a natural birth:


“There’s no medal for going natural.”
“I did not have to prove anything, so I had the drugs.”
“In the end, the birth doesn’t matter. All that matters is having a healthy baby.”

These comments may seem passive, but they can be very hurtful and degrading. They imply that a woman desiring a natural birth has only selfish motives. Perhaps these commentators really cannot think of a reason why someone would choose an unmedicated birth? I’m here to share my reasons.

I did not want to have a natural birth to prove anything to anyone (until after they showed doubt in my ability, that is!) I made natural birth my goal because:

I knew that the natural process can work.

Not only that it can work, but that is does, and more often than not! It is not “crazy” to believe women can endure childbirth. It is obvious we were designed to birth babies and that women did so without medication for thousands of years. My mom did it five times!! I was confident that if I had the right tools, I could do it, too.

I had seen the medicated process NOT work.

After my sister’s first baby was born (read more about her births here), my eyes were opened to the domino effect of interventions. Epidurals mean constant monitoring, IV fluids, a catheter and limited mobility. Those things can mean longer labors, weaker contractions, synthetic hormones to speed labor, fetal distress, vacuum/forceps delivery or a cesarean. Though the idea of a pain free birth is appealing, I know it is often not that simple.

I didn’t just want a healthy baby.

I wanted the most healthy baby possible and to be the most healthy I possibly could be. Epidural drugs are not without risks to mothers and babies. Avoiding them avoids the many interventions likely to follow. These interventions can have a negative impact on breastfeeding because baby is lethargic or because mom and baby are separated after birth for a lengthy amount of time.

I recognize every woman’s view of birth is based on unique fears, hopes and past experiences that I am often not privy to. I can respect her motives and assume the best. If a woman expresses her desire to give birth naturally, she’s not crazy- she is trusting in a process that has proven itself billions of times! Natural birth was more about what I did not want than what I did want. I was blessed with a smooth birth, a healthy baby and quick recovery. The bonus was an unanticipated birth high and the passion to share that experience with others. But my initial motivation was not about bragging (though I was proud!) or about joining a club and I have yet to receive a medal.

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