What a Beautiful Birth!

I attended a birth as a doula this week. It was my first “natural” birth and an all around beautiful one. (As an aside, I’m still looking for a better alternative that “natural.” The reason I don’t love the term is exemplified in stories like this one. Any ideas?) It was a birth I walked away from feeling profoundly honored to have been able to attend – let alone to be in a role supporting such an incredibly strong and centered mama. It was also a remarkable birth for a hospital birth – the staff cared about this laboring woman, read her birth plan (for real), and did everything in their power to provide her with the labor and birth and type of care she wanted. I definitely applaud the work they put in to making this happen! And you know what else? I got to cut the cord! A very exciting honor for anyone, let alone a midwifery student.

It definitely feels different having attended a birth in midwifery school. There are all sorts of little things along the way on this journey that make it a little bit more real – things like learning hard skills like venipuncture and speculum exams as well as attending and participating in prenatal and postpartum appointments. When I do these things, I feel a little bit more like some day I really am going to be a midwife – it’s not just a far-off distant dream. Attending a birth feels like a huge step towards the reality of being a midwife. And it seems like a necessary rite of passage – it certainly feels like I’m really a midwifery student now, not just someone attending midwifery school.

5 responses to “What a Beautiful Birth!

  1. “Natural.” Wow. Yeah. I have huge problems with “natural” when we’re talking about food, much less incredibly complicated and imperfect bodily procedures that routinely kill off the good and the just.

    Though I agree there should be a word for what you’re talking about. “Stock equipment birth?” “Unmodded birth?” –Sorry, all I got’s technology metaphors. :/

    • What does natural even mean? In any context, let alone birth?

      Women who don’t have “natural” births but try for one are made to feel inadequate and as if their bodies are unable to follow a “natural” process and must be broken. It’s a terrible dichotomy this word sets up – if you don’t have a “natural” birth, then what do you have? An unnatural one? And where do you draw the line? With a C-section? Or at the epidural? With artificial rupture of the membranes? I know some birth workers who claim you are no longer having a natural birth if your care provider stripped your membranes or stretched your cervix during a digital examination. Personally, I don’t feel that any of those should be routine interventions, but they can be helpful tools. Heck, just having a midwife present at your birth is an intervention of some sort.

      Which is to say in short that I have little love for the word “natural.” Thanks for the suggestions, Nick. I’ve been toying with “intervention-free” and “medication-free” but I’d love to turn it around into a positive. Although I do rather like your suggestion of “unmodded birth.” I’ll have to keep thinking I guess. I keep running into the problem of having creative new word ideas and then realizing that if it’s too out there, it’s not useful because people just have no idea what you’re talking about. The challenge becomes then to find a word and create a broad-based movement of women using it to describe their births.

    • I do like that term, although it still leaves lots of questions in my mind. It doesn’t say anything about things like episiotomies. And do you consider it to be a medicated birth if a woman takes blue and black cohosh to get her labor going? It’s all a big muddled mess as far as I’m concerned.

      L. just suggested “choice-centered birth” which I rather like. We support women in the choices they make whether that’s homebirth or a hospital birth with an epidural so long as it is really their choice. The thing I object to so much about birth right now is not that we have such a high epidural (or c-section rate) but that it’s something that’s presented to women as the only sane choice or forced on them (“Are you ready for your epidural now?”) and not something many women see as one choice out of a range of valid choices. That’s the way I would love things happen, with women feeling empowered about their own births because they were a result of choices they made that were best for their family – even in the face of a true medical emergency.

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