A Few Thoughts About Birth in the US

It amazes me how little people (especially women) really know about childbirth. I say people, because my husband has learned just as much as I have…we were both really clueless. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be amazed or surprised. Just a few short months ago, I was among those people. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I toyed with the idea of just having a C-section so I didn’t have to go through all the awful “tortures” of giving birth (I considered birth to be torturous in my own mind because of all the things a woman typically has to go through – needles, monitors, drugs, espisotomies, lack of respect). I just didn’t realize there was another way.

Since then, I have learned a lot through my own research and reading. No one has been here guiding me or telling me what is right or wrong. I’ve read articles from both points of view – medical and natural. I have read books describing birth stories, procedures, risks, benefits and statistics. I have made my own opinions and choices from the information that I’ve learned. Now, I wish I could somehow magically transfer all the information that I’ve learned to every other woman in this country. I’m not saying I look down upon giving birth in a hospital with a doctor, but I think that women should be able to make truly informed decisions about their bodies, babies, and their birth experiences. I know so many women who are afraid of birth. Afraid of what almost every American knows as a typical, “healthy” birth. I used to be in the category. I’m not even going to say I blame doctors for this skewed version of a “natural” birth, although I do believe some of the blame is to be put upon them. For the most part, I think doctors are led astray as well. They are taught from the beginning that birth needs intervention. Isn’t that what doctors do? They are supposed to diagnose and fix, not stand back and watch. Look into past for answers on how our traditional, expected birthing experiences came to be. You’ll probably be surprised at how many of the “normal” procedures came about.

I know when people learn I’m having a home birth they think I’m a little (or a lot) nuts. Sometimes I think they feel a little awe in the fact that I’m choosing to go through having a baby without a doctor. That or they think I’m just plain stupid. Birth in the United States is seen as a medical excision at worst and a medical emergency waiting to happen at best, but I believe (and know) that it can be so much more.

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