Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Childbirth is Natural

Is anyone else bothered by the term "natural childbirth?" No? I'm just being overly sensitive? There is just something kind of pretentious about it in my opinion. It's like anti-choicers coining the phrase "pro-life." When it comes down to it everyone is pro-life (except maybe serial killers) and the label is essentially an empty term used in order to claim some moral superiority over everyone else.

I know this is a silly thing to get annoyed about but I can't help it. Every childbirth is natural. Yes "natural childbirth" is referring to a specific form of childbirth, but that phrase implies that other forms are "unnatural." They're not. And you know what else is natural? Women dying during childbirth. Cancer. Cavities. All kinds of horrible shit no one wants to deal with. (And I've sure as hell have never seen a hospital just sprout up out of the ground.) I realize that there are risks with going through labor without medication, but there are also risks involved with any childbirth. Instead of elevating one from of childbirth to the sacred circle of true "womanhood," we should be supporting all women no matter what their choices.

Excuse to post baby pictures of Holden:

I probably sound like I'm being bitchy huh? Maybe it's because I've had my birthing experience belittled by a man since I had an epidural. Maybe it's because I always had to explain why I wasn't able to breastfeed to the judgemental asshats who demonize formula. Anyone with kids know that every parenting decision seems to be up for criticism (even from total strangers). I don't understand why we do this to one another (since I think women are the worse when it comes to tearing down other women's parenting choices). No one person makes decisions that are any more valid than anyone else. Even with things I'm passionate about, like not baptizing children, I realize my decision is no more sacred or legit than anyone else's decision to do the opposite.

Also, my birthing experience was pretty fregging awesome. I wouldn't want to have to do it over again, but I couldn't have had a better experience. My delivery was fast and complication free. My nurse was polite and unobtrusive while my doctor was great at what he did. For once in my life I was also double covered by insurance and ended up not having to pay a dime. Any woman would be lucky to have the experience I had. "Unnatural" or not.

Giving birth and raising another human being is scary and difficult. Why add any judgement or condemnation, even if it's only implied, on top of that? It just seems petty to me.

-I want to clarify that this post is not about the health/medical decisions of individual people, but rather the social opinions surrounding these choices.


  1. Great thoughts and so right on about women being the ones doing the most damage to each other.
    We need to support, hold each other's spaces, and open up honest dialouge about informed choices and options and loving support.
    I do have to disagree a bit, though, that an interventive birth, even one with pain meds, isn't really "natural" when medicine comes into play. HOWEVER, it doesn't mean it isn't sacred, beautiful, powerful and as you said...perfect. That indeed deserves clarification and honor.
    I think, though, that line of thinking where the original term came from. I prefer medicated vs. unmedicated when speaking in general terms.
    So happy you felt supported and awesome in your birth experience. YAY! More women deserve to feel that.

  2. I agree with you that we need more support, but my point is that ultimately the “natural” vs “unnatural” paradigm is invalid. I like “medicated” vs. “unmedicated.” It is much more accurate and less pretentious IMO. Natural is not just what our ancestors were able to do two thousand years ago but what we are capable of doing now as well. Otherwise almost all the activities and food we eat are unnatural.


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