This I Believe

Sarah - Indianapolis, Indiana
Entered on March 31, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: birth

Laura Stavoe Harm said, “There’s a secret in our culture and it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong.”

I believe that ACOG and the media have women so afraid of pregnancy and birth that they flock to surgeons for routine care instead of midwives who have better statistics. I went into my first pregnancy assuming that I would walk backwards through the hospital doors asking for an epidural. 8 months later I was sure the epidural wasn’t needed, but it wasn’t until I heard it was time to push that I finally knew that I didn’t need one.

We are so medically-advanced, yet of all industrial nations, we have the highest c-section and perinatal death rates. Have women in the US evolved so much in 50 years that one-third of them are now unable to have healthy vaginal births? Our nation, which is largely religious, must believe that God has made us some-how faulty in reproducing to the point that offspring must be cut out mothers 33% of the time.

Women spend more time researching their next car purchase than they do their birth options. Cable channels make shows about birth with emergency after emergency which scare women out of the natural process of birth, out of making decisions based on evidence. Even after everything I had read about what epidurals can do to both the mother and baby, I wasn’t sure what I would do because I had only seen the news stories and the TV shows. I had never seen a woman give birth naturally without screaming obscenities at her husband in the back of an ambulance.

I believe there is a huge difference between a woman who has a midwife in a birthing center or at home and a woman who uses a doctor in a hospital. A woman who believes her doctor is all-knowing because s/he went to medical school, also thinks that doctor can do no wrong and is solely at fault when something goes wrong and so goes on to sue the doctor. But, a woman who uses a midwife knows that sometimes things happen in birth that can’t be prevented. When compared to doctors with low-risk patients, midwives have much lower c-section rates, lower death rates, and are rarely sued when something goes wrong. Birth didn’t become safer when it entered the hospital until years later.

Natural birth is more than just birth with no pain medication. It is a birth unhindered by IVs, artificial induction, or pain medication; an event which isn’t “managed” and timed, but watched over; a miracle that is left to the woman’s body because that woman comes from an unbroken line of childbearing women. Midwives’ whole education is about how to safely deliver a baby without medical intervention. It can’t possibly have anything but a better outcome.

I believe women are strong and birth is a natural, every-day miracle that rarely needs help. I believe that there is nothing to be afraid of.