Saturday, June 13, 2015


These thoughts have been bouncing around in my head for a long time now, so I figured it was time to put them down on paper.

I strongly believe that birth is a natural process and that our bodies know how to bring our babies into the world without interference. I believe that most of us are able to have safe births without any need for medical intervention. And I also believe that c-sections are invaluable, life-saving operations that can be necessary to ensure the safety of mama and babe. I am grateful for our access to this procedure and for all of the lives it has saved.

I've long felt that the natural birth movement needs to work harder to honor all birth experiences. In our quest to break down the culture of fear and de-medicalize birth, we must be careful not to demonize c-sections, thereby marginalizing and demoralizing the mothers who deliver their babies this way (whether by choice or necessity.) We need to shatter the illusion of a hierarchy of birth, in which natural, unmedicated birth is put on a pedestal and any experience that falls short of this is viewed as a failure. Wherever and however birth takes place, it is a sacred event that requires tremendous strength and surrender.

Rising c-section rates make me angry because they point to an increased attitude of fear surrounding birth in this country. Women have long been led to believe that birth is a medical emergency, requiring constant monitoring and intervention by a team of nurses and doctors. We have subtly been force-fed the belief that our bodies are not capable-- that we must trust medical professionals with the task work of birthing our babies. And these medical professionals are often so intertwined with legal teams and insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations that they don't always have a mama's best interest at heart.

I am angry at the system that has led to a csection rate of 30% in this country. But I have only the utmost respect and admiration for the mothers who have birthed their babies via csection. I honor every mother's experience-- whether she births unassisted on her bedroom floor, chooses to have a scheduled c-section, or anything in between. My dream is for every woman to begin her journey of motherhood feeling supported and empowered.

While it may seem like pulling in opposite directions, I very much believe in our ability to champion natural birth while also honoring all birth experiences. We can celebrate, honor, and support mothers who deliver via csection without supporting the system that promotes fear-based birth.

My goals, as part of the natural birth movement, are to:

* Transform the attitude of fear that surrounds birth in our country,
* Encourage and empower women to trust their bodies, strength and the process of birth
* Change the outdated practices, so common in many hospitals, that lead to a spiral of intervention and  unnecessary c-sections. Make hospitals more birth-friendly--- allow mamas to eat, drink, and move freely throughout labor and to deliver in the position of their choice. Limit monitoring and respect the unpredicable timeline of natural birth. Encourage doula-attended births.
* Make c-cestion (and all hospital births) more  gentle and "mama-centered". Allow mothers to witness the procedure and ensure immediate skin-to-skin time (whenever possible.) Make sure that the mama's hands are not strapped down and that IV lines are put into her non-dominant hand so that she can hold the baby.

Thank you for reading, if you made it this far!!

1 comment:

  1. All the good feels and love for this post. I felt terrible after my planned homebirth turned into an almost-emergency cesarean. I didn't even get to experience labor, never saw the placenta (that I had planned to save/eat), didn't get to see the moment my baby emerged, and felt numbed by the whole process as I lay helpless in the bright, cold operating room. My baby had trouble breathing and had to be taken to the NICU, so I only held him for a second before he was gone. My husband and our beautiful midwife were with me (or the baby) the whole time, but I still emerged traumatized. I felt so unprepared, violated, and ashamed that my body couldn't get it right. The natural birth movement failed me; I had needed the great evil - a cesarean. All my reading and researching for a natural birth left me feeling like a failure, since there had been no space for cesarean in that world. I'm still trying to figure out how to heal, 9 months later, and move on.