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Motivations and misleading information...

It's a sticky topic, birth.

Someone will always be offended, feel attacked, or disagree with what is being said...

That said, something has been playing on my mind this week...

People have different motivations for choosing the kinds of birth they aspire to. Some aspire to have painless, predictable births. Others to simply have a living baby and mother at the end of the birth. Some aspire to have the birth Nature intended for them, whatever that might end up looking like.

Problems arise when people start pushing one another to have the birth they themselves are motivated to have without fully ensuring the other people has the same understanding and motivation as themself. This goes equally for medical and natural frameworks.

Another problem arises when the information provided is misleading, or misguided.

For the purpose of this post, I'm going to look at free birthing. I will say now that I am fully aware all of what I'm about to say could equally be said about a fully medicalised birth overseen by an OB in a hospital...

A lot of motivation for free birthing stems from wanting to get back to nature. To trust nature and the process of birthing "as nature intended". Women who choose this for themselves, independant of peer pressure, do so with full acceptance that in nature death is a part of life and not all babies or all mothers are intended to survive the birthing process. Their motivation is seperate to the "ideal" of the living, breathing, healthy baby outcome that most of Western society is focused on atm.

Some, having chosen this path for themselves and their babies, and often having experienced a birth where the healthy baby outcome was equally achieved, will go on to promote free birthing as the "best option" for any woman, stating that "a woman's body is designed to birth so why would nature do something to endanger the mother or baby"...

The short answer is NATURE wouldn't endanger the woman or child. So long as everything is equal. The thing is, EVERYTHING is NOT equal!

Women in Western society today, do NOT live as nature intended.

Nature didn't intend for women to sit on their behinds all day, particularly in pregnancy.

Nature didn't intend for women to eat diets high in refined, processed foods.

Nature didn't intend for women to have 50 hour long labours - that's a very long time for a woman to hide from predators and keep her energy up and keep herself and her baby safe.

Nature doesn't intended for MOST women and babies to survive birth - as long as 1/2 the population survives, nature is doing just fine.

Nature didn't intend for women to be overweight and obese - and YES fat women ARE fat on the INSIDE. Fat sorrounds and impedes the organs, as well as messing with other body functions.

As well as these things. Not all illness is evident in tangible symptoms. We don't always know when our bodies aren't functioning properly - for example, I had two pregnancies where my internal organs were all stuck together, and I should have been in excruiating pain, but I wasn't...

And so, if a woman chooses to free birth in the full acceptance of these things, it is for no one else to judge that by their own standards, because she has taken on responsibility for her choice for herself and her baby.

The thing is, I often wonder, when I read such sweeping statements, "Women are designed to birth, so you will be fine..." or, "If something is going to go wrong, you'll have plenty of time to get to hospital" if the person saying that is even aware that they may be misleading the person they are talking to by making assumptions about what "Nature intends"...

My mum once told me it was ok that my seatbelt wasn't working because we were headed to church for a Sunday evening service and God would take care of us. 20 minutes later, she was sitting in the middle a road holding the flesh of her thigh to her femur while someone called an ambulance.

Let's not speak on behalf of God, or Nature, especially when we so often make choices in our lives that ARE well and truly outside of what God/Nature actually might have intended for us. And let's be sure that the person we're trying to convince to do what we'd do - because it validates our own choice - is motivated by the same things that motivate us, and are willing to take the same responsibility for the outcome and live with the same consequences that we are...

Comments

Sazz said…
"Nature didn't intend for women to have 50 hour long labours - that's a very long time for a woman to hide from predators and keep her energy up and keep herself and her baby safe."

I'm curious about this comment. Does this mean that my baby and I should be dead? And we're not...so what does that mean? I'm also wondering what you're basing it on?
Stitch Sista said…
This comment is probably somewhat tangential - but I think it all comes back to CHOICE.

Just as it would be inappropriate to advocate freebirth for all, it OUTRAGES me that because homebirthers are currently a minority, those who already have the hospital options they so desire feel it's their right to have a voice in curtailing the choices of the minority.

I hear what you are saying, and I think it's a case of presenting extremes in the hope that there is a meeting in the middle. Is there really anyone suggesting all people have a freebirth? I don't believe that. However the majority do seem to think they can insist all women birth in hospital - and that is just plain wrong.
Sif said…
Sazz, everything is not about you. If you had a 50 hour birth and are ok, that's great, I'd say that living in a house in modern society probably does help to protect you from the kind of predators nature plans for. Would nature intend you to endure a long, difficult labour, I don't know, I doubt that would be the intention - might it be a result of such things as a very sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical condition or some other difficulty, it might - you would know more about your lifestyle choices and fitness than me, so that would be for you to consider. The fact that you CAN birth a baby under difficult circumstances, doesn't mean it is was nature intended or that it is desirable.

Rach, yes, I believe there are people who advocate free birthing as the ONLY right way to birth - arguing that nature never intended for us to be under medical supervision, but to let our bodies do what they're designed to do (not taking into account current lifestyle choice). I have certainly read those sentiments since first reading about freebirth nearly 10 years ago.

However, this blog is about CHOICE, choice that considers, acknowledges and accepts both the desired and undesirable outcomes of whatever choice is made, and sometimes I feel that only the desirable ourcomes are highlighted, whether that is "painless, predictable birth" or "as nature intended - without defining nature's intentions too closely".
Sazz said…
I didn't say it's all about me, I was curious about what your opinion would be with regard to my situation since you had written that nature didn't intend for me to have the natural birth I had, iykwim.

While you're accusing me of trying to make everything about myself I am still left wondering why freebirthing upsets you so much?

And of course I find it frustrating when someone who doesn't like freebirth and who hasn't done it purports to know why women who do like it choose it. All a bit perplexing from the other side of the fence :)
Sif said…
Sazz, I'm not sure where you got the impression that free birthing upsets me. It doesn't. I'd be quite ok free birthing in a circumstance where I had to. Personally, the only reason I haven't is because I like having a wise woman with me at my birth. My midwife did nothing but be with me for Ari's birth, and it was the same for Luey's birth.

For Bryn my midwife identified a cervical lip that was causing me frustration, it was good to have her experience with birth to make that identification.

My first birth was full of interventions, so somewhat a different story.

I'm ALL FOR women choosing to free birth if it is was makes them feel most comfortable and they are prepared for whatever the outcome may be - acknowledging that sometimes babies don't survive labour, and sometimes there are hidden problems that don't come to light until a woman is heavily in labour, and sometimes there ISN'T enough time to seek medical help. If a woman chooses to free birth acknowledging and accepting those things in her heart, then I completely support her right to choose for herself and her baby.

It is when women choose to free birth because they believe that if they don't do so, they will be perceived as feeble and oppressed by the patriarchy, of lacking trust in their body and in the process. There are women who feel such peer pressure, even when they are not able to admit doing so - for fear of losing face. It is a real phenomenon that I have observed.

Free birth doesn't upset me. Women have birthed without medical supervision for millenia because they had no choice and those women accepted all the outcomes and witnessed, first hand, what the range of outcomes could be. Women who free birth in modern Western society often have extremely limited exposure to birth and have almost exclusively witnessed medical intervention "saving the day" if "something does go wrong" and I'm not at all convinced the vast majority would be prepared to accept an undesirable outcome, or are even prepared to acknowledge that our modern lifestyle actually do compromise our natural bodies in doing "what nature intended"...

Please don't presume to project your own upset about these discussions onto me.
Sazz said…
"I'm ALL FOR women choosing to free birth if it is was makes them feel most comfortable and they are prepared for whatever the outcome may be - acknowledging that sometimes babies don't survive labour, and sometimes there are hidden problems that don't come to light until a woman is heavily in labour, and sometimes there ISN'T enough time to seek medical help. If a woman chooses to free birth acknowledging and accepting those things in her heart, then I completely support her right to choose for herself and her baby."

That's great.

You and I must hang out in very different circles of freebirthers.

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